Couple of days back, I happened to go to the Christmas carol service of my home parish, the Immanuel Mar Thoma Church, Paruthippara, Trivandrum. As I sat listening to the songs, my thoughts raced back to the days when my brother and me were active members of the church choir and the Youth Group. It was quite encouraging to see quite a lot of new young faces in the choir as well the Youth Group.
The church choir has been a major place where I learnt the basics of Christian discipline and practice. The songs we sang over and over made quite an imprint on my mind. I remember someone telling us to chew over the words of the songs we sang over and over again. As I look back, I cannot deny that the singing did quite a lot of good to us.
The choir had always been quite an influence in our childhood and youth days.
I remember the story told by one of our choirmasters about a practice somewhere on Handel's I know that my Redeemer lives where the choirmaster stopped the practice and stepped upto to the soloist if she believed what she was singing. The story goes on that the singer burst into tears and wished that she could make Christ a reality in her life.
As I saw on the pews, I was very much encouraged by our vicar's presidential address where he commented that in the olden days, there was quite a lot of emphasis given on spiritual renewal during Christmas time which has diminished over time. In it's place, arose the tremendous amount of spending on decorations, fun and frolick.
The first song I remember singing in the choir was a song called 'Manger Boy'. It was a sweet song which I sang around for quite a long time. However, it was quite a long time later that I found out the meaning of 'manger'. But, when we first sang it, the term 'manger' seemed very romantic. The corresponding word used in Greek denotes a feeding trough used in cattlesheds. I got this picture from a blog when I searched the net. No, it hardly resembles the pictures we see on Christmas cards and Nativity Plays.
I do not think that one can go any more lower than this. The king of kings to be laid in a manger after he's born. And something more - nowhere in the Bible is it told that he was born in the cowshed/stable/manger. I remember someone suggesting that Jesus may have been born on the wayside, some kind heart had suggested that they rest in the cowshed before proceeding further and Mary improvising the manger into a comfortable crib for baby Jesus. Not improbable.
What a contrast from the celebrations we see today?
We've thoroughly missed the message of Christmas.
There are already quite a movement within believers, on the pagan origins of Christmas and why we should be moving away from many of the outward signs of Christmas like Santa Claus, Christmas Tree etc. You can read about them here. And a bit more stronger message here.
I'm not sure what the cause is. Of recent, many of the things which we associate with Christmas, even the carol singing pales in camparison to the events associated with the Christ birth. Maybe, I'm becoming old.
However, I've to convince myself to be part of all the festivities because I've realised that even my present beliefs and affirmations about the lordship of Jesus Christ in my life evolved and were firmed through participation in many of these celebrations especially the choir. I cannot deny that there is a voice deep down somewhere in me urging me to get into some four part singing. Oh...How I used to love those sessions. It was affirmed as we drove back when my sweetheart also expressed a desire to sing in a choir next Christmas...
As for my choristers in my parish, they did a fantastic job. However, do remember that the ultimate aim for the believer in Christ is to know Christ Jesus as Lord of each of our lives Philippians 3:8). Well, do not feel much disturbed about whether to celebrate or not to celebrate Christmas. I've found this article quite useful.
Hope you had a blessed time of Christmas celebrations with friends and family. We pray that you will have a Christ filled 2012...