Coming to church today, I had the hunch that I’ll experience something extraordinary. Somewhat laughable considering how mundane Carol services are, year after year at this church.
I could hear the Boney M anthem blasting loudly from the church auditorium.
Hark the herald, the angels sing a king was born today
And men will live forever more, because of Christmas day.
Church was going to be crowded, I could feel it my guts. With the number of cars parked outside, security directing the rich to juicy spaces and the ones with seemingly cab like cars waved off with a hand, I secretly wondered how the food I saw packed in Pastor Lanre’s Hilux would go round this crowd. Glory to Jesus my worries were allayed when I was saw more trucks coming in; they planned for the number so even if Pastor Lanre’s wife in her frugality decided to withhold some food packs, at least the early birds like myself would be sure of a Heavenly ration.
I was at church for rehearsals practically for the whole of Saturday. I prayed silently even on my way home that my voice wouldn’t crack due to the strain from the previous day’s intensive rehearsals. Melodies to be rendered unto God were set, tailors for one did not disappoint this time, Christmas was ready and the Carol finna be lit.
Choristers were asked to wait at the gallery for the final practice. Imagine if you missed your lines at that dying minute? It would be a classic case of hoping the Savior who walked on water can walk you out of this one.
I always found carols as more of a yearly ritual than an uplifting Christmas service observed every year. For as far back as I can remember, nine lessons each talking about the birth of Jesus, prophecies surrounding his coming into the world and events that occurred on the day of glory are talked about.
The same message is preached every year and this one time, the pastor in charge read out the entire bulletin of the carol from two years ago. I found out because I rushed to the church store to grab more cartons of water for the kids and stumbled upon some old bulletins. While taking a quick glance, he read aloud “Jesus is the reason why the bombs this year haven’t taken your life. Furthermore…” I screamed silently and after dropping off the water for the kids, I took my time to follow up his “well prepared” sermon straight from the throne of grace but somehow leaked by a bulletin from two years ago. Well this was last year so I am assuming the church committee is not daft. They must’ve seen the loopholes, heard the holy backbiting by members, then come to the solemn decision of bringing a guest minister from an entirely different church.
Maybe in other countries they shake things up, or the Holy Spirit leads his children to come across powerful messages as regards the birth of Jesus. Over here, things are far from different. Schools made it worse with the ceaseless rotation of songs from before even teachers were born; no encouragement to write new songs, perform remixes or add flavor to the left -right “before time began” performances. I was sincerely here to watch the kids, sing in the choir, eat Chinese fried rice and fall on my bed the moment I get home.
The guest minister looked proud from where he sat. Hands relaxed on his laps, shaking one leg slightly too much, left sided smile and his wife with her hands near his lap as if one of the singles was going to attack him and wed him on the spot. Even when he came out to pray for the drama group, she mounted the stage with him which by the way, I found unnecessary like mama relax, nobody is taking Pastor Jeremy home.
He said something significant in the course of his prayer before the sermon which felt like intercessory prayers because if you want to pray for that long before preaching and further praying after the sermon has been preached, you might as well ask us to rise and not hide under the guise of an introductory prayer. Well, I kept my cool. After all, if you want to eat rice you must as well endure till the end to receive the crown of a firewood pot or as this case may be the Chinese rice methodology. I promise you I wasn’t paying rapt attention but you also know they don’t call me sound waves for nothing; my ears pick things up way too fast─ sometimes a blessing, other times, to Jesus be my glory.
The pastor prayed and said “lord, even though we are going to read scriptures that have been read a thousand times from a variety of versions, give everyone here a Christmas experience. We are taking ourselves back in time, to follow through the journey of how you decided to save us and carry out your gracious plan. Help us get a miracle from this living testimony that ransomed our hearts, make us realize that you exist in this narration and fill our hearts with an experience that will change our lives forever. Amen”
Odd closing lines I must say but then again, I was ready to hear what the preacher had to say.
Imagine the look on Mary’s face when she didn’t see her period and was told she was with a child conceived of the Holy Spirit? He asked
Uhmmm okay, imagine Joseph who Mary probably kept wading off harmless pecks from and then he is told she is pregnant by the Angel?
Don’t bother imagining, you can’t!
The things of that time were designed to occur in the lives of those who acted with faith rather than what they saw to be true. This brings me to the reason why many of you attend this church, all its weekly activities, home cell, training's, conventions, conferences, retreats and every other garnished name that connotes church activity or the gathering together of the brethren, yet you have no faith in this King of Glory we speak of.
Only the extraordinary events surrounding his astonishing entrance into this cruel world, the magnificence and charisma he carried even at age 12 and the compassion, with which he executed a majority of his miracles, depicts clearly that we are gathered here to celebrate no ordinary man.
John 9:35 (ESV) Jesus heard that they cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man”. Brethren I ask, Do you believe in the Son of Man we are gathered here to celebrate?
At every Carol most of you congregants dress up in the image of a God you have no faith in, come to his sanctuary, render hymns, sing melodies with sonorous voices, yet Christmas itself which is a time to rejoice that a man who is multitasking enough to be your friend, savior, Messiah, miracle worker ultimately wielding unfathomable power and was born for a sinner like you, is by passed with audacious negligence. Stale as bread are the messages of the wise mens’ gifts, the encounter of the Shepherds watching their flock by night and those other stories I vehemently believe should be told to young children not adults who are seemingly mature in Christ. The Christendom knows these stories, all of them. We breathe them every Christmas still, we have no faith in what we celebrate, no conviction that the King we sing to exists, and so we carry on with our lives as mere church goers and church devotees, walking through the earth without a daily phenomenal experience of the God we evangelize about.
If what I see every year is Christmas, I want no part of it. A Christmas that does not preach Faith in the unseen God whose good works are evident enough to make the blind see, a Christmas that does not reinforce the urgency that Christians should beyond devouring the laps of Turkeys, devour the word of God with an insatiable appetite, and a Christmas that does not preach love makes me very uncomfortable.
I did not come with a multitude of scriptures and a host of bullet points for you to write in your notepads, record or scribble on your iPads where they will never be visited again. I came that you might understand that the entirety of Christmas, and the ultimate Christmas message is Do you believe in the Son of Man that you are gathered to reminisce on his birth?
Search your hearts and find out if you truly believe. If yes, praise God and if not, now is the perfect time to bask in the euphoria of this miracle child conceived of the Holy Spirit to believe and serve him as a believer.
The sermon was still ongoing but at that point, I blanked out. I fell into deep thought. Even when the children were performing, I was too busy reflecting. I believe God knows I love him but I don’t have the required faith to serve diligently a man I have never seen. Christmas indeed is to be celebrated by those who have Faith in the Jesus they are they turning up for and looking at myself, my lifestyle hasn’t exactly been an epitome of Faith in Jesus.
Mehnn the Carol service was powerful. I didn’t stay till the end because I had to go home and do something with what I had just heard not just sit around.
It’s a few days to Christmas and here I am, reading Romans 10:17 “So Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ”. The Lumiere Carol Experience might not have given me a nice takeaway pack of Chinese fried rice, but it gave me the opportunity to hear the word of Christ that is now the basis for my faith.
The blog message:
The young lady who narrated The Lumiere Carol Experience is probably a lot of us. We celebrate Christmas every year and yet the conviction of the existence of Jesus is not there. We hope that with the next year we are able to find the basis for our Faith but years are running by, we have come up with nothing so far.
I hope this sends a message to us that beyond the charitable works which are necessary so we can show love to others, beyond the merriment and running stomachs this yuletide brings, there is a Jesus who seeks to have a relationship with us and that we can only achieve if we have Faith in him. We have never seen him but if the eyes of our hearts are opened, we can experience him this season and be translated to a lifelong partnership with him.
Merry Christmas Family of light, I hope you enjoyed the Lumiere Carol Experience just as much as I loved it. It has been a wonderful year and I truly am grateful that you have stuck with me to do the work of the Father who sent me. With one more blog post on the 28th, I’m delighted to inform you that 2021 has goodies in store for us in this space. The Holy Spirit is working a wondrous work, uplifting content is on the go and yes, it will be a year of glad tidings indeed.
I wish you dear child of light, the best of this season and I implore you to hold fast to the word of God; better, share it with others too.
Your fellow child of Light,
Crystabel Nnamdi (Krystarbelle).
Blessings, Love and Light,
Have a Lumiere Christmas filled with the Light of God!