Some of my coursemates and I were doing some Christmas shopping after Uni recently when I suggested we play a game that I lovingly call: “Spot the Christmas card about Jesus”. I’m a fun friend, you see. There’s the odd one here and there with a nice nativity scene, but most of the cards on the shelves seem to be dominated by robins and Frosty the Snowman.
Sadly, it seems the true meaning of Christmas is sidestepped as the season becomes more and more about the debate over the quality of the John Lewis advert or whether or not November is a socially acceptable time to put your tree up.
What we can all agree on, however, is that carol services are a wonderful seasonal tradition. There is something heart-warming about singing Silent Night by candlelight, or listening to the wonderful choir of King’s College, Cambridge raise the roof with Once in Royal David’s City. I personally find flyering for carol services on my University campus quite a pleasant experience as many welcome the invite for the sake of feeling more festive, or to celebrate the tradition of going to church each Christmas, or because of the free mince pies and mulled wine afterwards. I feel that carol services really sell themselves.
Although what many often fail to appreciate is that carol services aren’t just about singing nice songs. After all, we chant at football games and sing awkwardly at birthday parties so what is it that makes songs like Hark! The Herald Angels Sing any different? Ultimately, not only are they far more pervasive, but they point to a far greater cause for celebration. Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year because it marks the birth of Jesus. Both the greatness and the nearness of God clash in epic proportions as we find the same God of the universe who flung stars into space, wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger. The birth of Jesus is cause to rejoice because it shows that we matter to God: He made his dwelling among us (John 1:4) and came with a rescue plan to save his people. The Christmas story is proof to the world that God provides a real solution to the real problem of the world.
We pray as a Christian Union, and for the CUs up and down the country who welcome thousands of students to their carol services, that the message of Christmas does not just stop at familiarity. I’ll pray as I sit next to my teammates and coursemates that the message will go further and highlight God’s genuine love for us, our need for forgiveness and that Christmas is good news for all people. We don’t host carol services merely for the sake of repeating a tradition, but because they are celebrations that God Himself came into our world to save. It’s safe to say that John Lewis’ dragon Edgar pales in comparison.
The Globe Church will have carol services on 11, 12 and 15 December. Do come and celebrate, together with all of your friends and colleagues! Find more information here https://www.globe.church/events