Dear Friends,

The 24-7 Christmas music station stopped playing its holiday tunes on December 26. Bare and dry Christmas trees are starting to populate the alleys. And some of the neighborhood’s glittering lights and displays are starting to come down.

Yet in our church calendar, we are only half way through the 12 days of Christmas that lead us to the Feast of the Epiphany. And we will still be singing Christmas carols this Sunday. The first known carol was the Angels Hymn written in 129 CE by the Bishop of Rome. However, it’s believed that Christians adapted pagan songs to fit the Christmas story earlier than that. All during this week, I’ve been listening to a delightful podcast produced by America magazine that Suzanne shared with me called “Hark: The stories behind our favorite Christmas carols.” It’s worth a listen and full of interesting stories. Whether it’s standing outside the church during Ravenswood Light Up, joyfully proclaiming O Come All Ye Faithful at the start of our Christmas liturgies, or quietly singing Silent Night as the lighting of candles pierces the darkness, the sound of voices lifted in unison gladdens my heart and brings me closer to God. Reformed theologian Karl Barth wrote “the praise of God which finds its concrete culmination in the singing of the community is one of the indispensable forms of the ministry of the church.”

During the sermon this Sunday at our 9:00 and 11:00am services, we will take your requests for favorite carols from either of our hymnals and I’ll share some stories about the origins of these songs. And while our 8:00am will still be a spoken service with no singing, we will still share stories about our favorite carols!

As we move through the rest of the Christmas season and celebrate the end of 2023, I wish you all a blessed and joyous New Year. I look forward to discovering what 2024 has in store for our community of faith.