Our Christmas Carol Service is always a special service, but this year we were asked to record the service to be broadcast on SAFM on Christmas Day and so we put in a big effort to put together something special.
The music team practiced really hard, putting in three long practices in the weeks leading up to the service. The weekend of the service was also the weekend of the Refilwe Christmas party and so we were pretty tired after a busy weekend. Tired but still game!
At 3pm Hannes Reyneke from SAFM arrived to set up all the equipment needed for the broadcast. He was very professional and even helped us sort out a long-standing problem we were having with our own sound system.
The musos arrived at 4pm and we got stuck into practising all the songs. Hannes added to our fun by doing test recordings and then we all gathered around the Outside Broadcast Van and listened to ourselves. He also gave us valuable tips for the recording….
At 6pm all the readers arrived and we did a test run with them on the microphone to check that they were all audible and then our Drummer Boy aka Andrew arrived and we went through some of the songs for one last time….
The congregation started pouring in at 6h30pm and enjoyed tea, coffee and mince-pies and one could feel the energy and excitement buzzing in the air. At 7pm we went inside and got ready for the broadcast.
We needed to do a sound check and so we sang through the first two songs. This was nearly the undoing of the whole thing, because the sound of so many voices lifted up in praise to God, combined with the experience of the Refilwe Orphans the day before, the sense of the awesome privilege of serving God in this congregation and the hope and comfort of the Christmas message was quite overwhelming for me and I found myself choking back the tears and the service hadn’t even begun!
After a bit of an emotional welcome, and a bit of shaky start on the part of the preacher, we settled down into a service that was a mix between carols, scripture readings and short devotional thoughts. All the readers and pray-ers did a great job and read and prayed with joy and passion, Shawn did a great job up in the sound box and the music team did an excellent job while the congregation sang themselves hoarse!
At the end of the service Hannes pronounced himself satisfied with the outcome and so we turned off the lights and sang “a ray of hope” one more time as we lit the candles and shared the light of Christ.
A huge big THANK YOU to all who helped to make this service an awesome experience and a great success. This sheepdog (I wear a dog-collar to prove it!) continues to feel awesomely privileged to work for the Great Shepherd at the flock of Emmanuel and Grace. You can see more photos on Facebook by clicking HERE.
In 2005 Erna Basson wrote this poem about the Carol Service:
Carols by Candlelight
The outline of the service is below:
Christmas Broadcast Service
SING 1. A ray of hope flickers in the sky
Christmas is when we remember that “The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us.”
That a brand new morn has come to pass because the CHRIST was born.
Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing
which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning
make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds
with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus’ sake.
Reading 1: Isaiah 9:2,6,7 (Stephen Njiro)
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
Reading 2: John 1:1-4 & 14 (Craig Smith)
SING 2. Long time ago in Bethlehem
SING 3. Joy to the world
Reading 3: Micah 5:2-5 (Thandile Gubevu)
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.
Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor gives birth
and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.
He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.
And he will be their peace.
Reading 4: Luke 2:4-12 (Amy Gouws)
Devotional Thought #1: Paradox
The birth of Christ was predicted well in advance and was highly anticipated,
and yet, when it finally took place, these incredible events took place in the context of bureaucratic chaos and rural poverty.
SING 4. From the Squalor of a Borrowed Stable
SING 5. God rest ye merry gentlemen
Reading 5: Matthew 2:1,2 & 9-12 (Babs de Nysschen)
Devotional Thought #2: Gifts
Jesus has given us so much. The final verse of the Calypso Carol reminds us of this:
Mine are riches from Your poverty
From Your innocence, eternity
Mine forgiveness by Your death for me
Child of sorrow for my joy
SING 6. Come they told me parapapapum
SING 7. See Him lying in a bed of straw
Reading 6: 1Timothy 3:16 (Ben Gouws)
He appeared in a body,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.
Devotional Thought #3: Mystery
It seems hard to fathom that God, the Creator, would appear in a body.
It seems unthinkable that Christ would leave behind the glory of heaven for us
It seems impossible that the Maker of DNA would be implanted in Mary’s womb
It seems incredible that He who spoke creation into being would cry out “My God my God…”