Four ordinary encouragements from our Carol Service

Yesterday evening, we had our Carols by Candlelight service. I thought I would share a few things that really encouraged me from it. None of them earthshattering, but all of them encouraging in their own way.

International Voices

I hadn’t planned it this way. I just asked some people to do readings for us. We had nine slots to fill and I wanted to make sure we had people to fill them. But it was exciting to hear various international accents and voices. We had English, Welsh, Cameroonian, Iranian and American voices from the front. These just happened to be the people I asked and I hadn’t really thought about it until somebody said from the front (mainly because I have just become accustomed to it being what we are) but it was quite exciting to hear voices from around the world all reading from the same scriptures.

Multigenerational Voices

Apart from one of these, I hadn’t really clocked the multigenerational voices we had one display either. A few of us were in our thirties at the front. A couple were 40s and 50s. There were a few 60s and 70s. And there was one voice in single digits. All of the people reading were members at the church. On top of the multigenerational readings, we had a song from the children who attend Sunday School too. But apart from that, we had multigenerational singing. That was encouraging.

Outsiders coming in

We only had one family who were not regular attendees on Sunday. In many contexts, that would be a cause for disappointment. But I was encouraged by that. Not only that the church membership and regular attenders wanted to come, but that the family who came in did so because of other things we had going on. They were already known to us through our English Classes, but chose to come to our carol service because of the relationships that had built up and the invite they received. It tells me the carol service is not our only hope of reaching them, nor our one-hit of evangelistic activity they will receive. It also tells me, on some level, our other ministry work is bearing fruit. That is encouraging.

People hanging round

It might seem weird to be encouraged about people hanging round afterwards, but it was. It may only be a mince pie and cup of tea on one level, but I saw so much more on another level. I saw people from different ethnicities and backgrounds genuinely glad to be together. I saw people who were 60 and 70 giving things to the children and encouraging them in the Lord. I saw older children – who in other circumstances wouldn’t do this – playing with the younger children because it was a nice thing to do. I saw people chatting and enjoying each other for no other reason than they have the Lord Jesus in common. All of that encouraged me.

I am sharing this not because any of it is outlandish and amazing. But sometimes we fail to have our eyes open to the ordinary things that are often going on right in front of our eyes. Praise God that we can hear his scriptures read, his praises sung, joy expressed over his coming into the world from people of various tribes, tongues and nations and be built up by these things. I pray that we would not have our eyes closed to the ordinary and standard ways in which the Lord is continually blessing us.