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December 23, 2013

Lessons & Carols

by Brendan

Today, at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church here in Gainesville, FL, we had our annual Lessons & Carols service, which precedes the Christmas Eve service every year.

GalaxyM74 -- right after "formless and void"

GalaxyM74 — right after “formless and void”

The choir and congregation sang 9 carols, maybe a few more, and readers proclaimed 9 lessons from Scripture.  Our carols were some familiar ones (“O Come All Ye Faithful,” “The First Noel”) but many others that I’ve never heard — including carols the choir sang in Spanish (I can sing along with that), French (also one of my languages), German, Russian, Latin, and Dutch — our Bulletin provided translations, so even though I didn’t know the tune nor could sing the words, I could follow along.

What interested me and stuck with me, though, was the enormous circle through time we followed in the Lessons.  We started with the Adam and Eve story in Genesis, so we were a couple of chapters after the creation of heaven and earth.  Then Isaiah, many years later, prophesying about the Messiah, and a few others.  I did the 5th reading, which was from Luke’s Gospel, the angel telling Mary that she was chosen to bear the Christ child.  Then more readings from Luke, starting with his very familiar story of Christmas — “A decree went out from Emperor Augustus that the whole world would be counted”– followed by Joseph & Mary, Bethlehem, cradle & manger, shepherds, Wise Men.

The 9th and final reading was the first words of John’s Gospel — “In the beginning was the Word….”  So we started with Genesis, a couple of weeks after the Creation of heaven and earth, then went thousands or millions of years until Jesus was born around the turn of the 1st Century, then rocketed back to Before the Dawn of Time.  Wowser — what a ride, what fun!

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