“We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year!”
Speaking to a couple of friends over the last few days I breathed a sigh of relief when I realised that the number of carol services I am involved in can be counted on one hand; some of my friends need an abacus and some serious energy. Musicians: you are about to face the busiest time of the year – let’s not pray for merriment, but contentment and happiness as we serve our Saviour.
“Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth”
When you sit down for Christmas dinner, utterly exhausted from carols and endless practices, will you resent the past weeks of energy sapping service or recall with joy that the gospel has been proclaimed? The gospel will be heralded in song and through the preaching of the Word to so many who for most of the year want nothing to do with the Christ of Christmas who offers a ‘second birth’ #joy.
“Yet what can I give Him, give my heart”
It is easy as a musician to go through the motions at Christmas, becoming reliant on the thankful comments of so many who recognise your efforts and gifts. You can get to your Christmas pudding with clotted cream (essential family tradition!) and never have engaged your heart and mind in the joy and gift of Christmas. Be careful that as you play your n’th carol that what you are playing and singing is what you believe and trust with all your heart. You can give all you like by serving in the church but what God wants more than anything else is you – give your heart.
“Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the new born King”
When the choir descant sounds like a strangled pack of mountain goats, when the brass section have brushed the dust off their cheap and poorly tuned instruments (please excuse my stereotyping!) look beyond the notes. Most musicians are utter perfectionists and we are an easily frustrated bunch; go easy on the trumpeter, take a chill-pill before speaking to the sopranos when they have just pierced ear-drums with a squeaky descant. Look where God looks, look at them as people made to glorify their Saviour, encourage them in that and encourage yourself to do the same. Of course it may mean you hold back on the descant options next year – we need to be wise in how we lead the music so it is an encouragement and not a distraction. But don’t let your miserable perfectionism so critique someone that they retreat bruised and reticent to glorify their Saviour King in song. Encourage and be wise, for the good of the church and the glory of the incarnate Son of God.
‘We rest on thee our shield and our defender”
I know it’s not a Christmas song but at the gym this morning whilst pounding out some mileage on the treadmill, I was listening to this great old hymn – just the medicine from our sovereign Lord I needed. Like me you may look forward to the next few weeks and realise the strength isn’t there, the diary is overwhelmed and you feel a dull sense of despair that will grow as the chocolates are consumed from the advent calendar. But we do not go in our own strength, we rest on thee our shield and our defender, knowing that, as Paul says in 2 Cor 12:9, ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong’. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV)
Andy Fenton- Christ Church Earlsfield