Surrounded by The Story

Glenn Co-Lay Leader Carol Allums brings us to the third post in our Advent series. She helps us look forward to Lessons and Carols this Sunday by reflecting back on her many years of participating in the service.

This Sunday at 11:00 a.m., Glenn will present its annual Lessons and Carols service. If you’re not familiar with Lessons and Carols, it is a service that tells the story of the Christian faith, from the Garden of Eden through the birth of Jesus, using scripture lessons, hymns and anthems. A service of this type has been a tradition in Christian churches since the late 1800s.

At Glenn, choirs of all ages participate in the Lessons and Carols service, each offering an anthem to tell a part of the story. From the first and second graders in the Carol Choir singing “A Star, A Song, A Sign” to the adult Chancel Choir closing the service with the magnificent “Dona Nobis Pacem”, the choirs offer anthems of many different types and times. The congregation also helps to advance the narrative through the singing of traditional Advent hymns such as “Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending” and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”  Between the musical offerings, lay readers tell the story of our faith with scripture readings. Prior to the service, beginning at 10:30 a.m., Stuart Stephenson, Principal Trumpet with the ASO, will be joining with organist Jamie Shiell and percussionist Todd Mueller to present instrumental music of the Advent season. If you are ever going to be early to church at Glenn, this is the Sunday to do it.

As a member of the Chancel Choir, I have been in the choir loft for many Lessons and Carols services. Sitting there gives me a front row seat from which to watch all the children’s and youth choirs offer their best to God. As the mother of three children who grew up at Glenn, I have been moved to watch year after year as the children of our church so beautifully do their part to tell the story. And while I love singing in the Chancel Choir on normal Sundays, it is a special privilege to be a part of this service, with its wonderful music and timeless story.

Despite the joy I take in participating in Lessons and Carols, my favorite memory from the services over the years is from a year I did not sing. That was the year our son, Coleman, was diagnosed with cancer. Throughout the time he was receiving chemotherapy, Coleman frequently was unable to be around groups of people because of the risk of infection. During that time, my husband, Vic, and I would take turns on Sundays, one of us going to church with our daughters, Maddie and Jordan, and one of us staying home with our son. That year, the Sunday of Lessons and Carols was my turn to go to church, although it is possible that I finagled the calendar to make sure that was the case. Sitting in the congregation that Sunday, listening to the choirs and the scripture readings and singing the hymns, was exactly what I needed. During one of the most difficult times of my life, I sat surrounded by my church family, listening to the story of our faith and being reminded and reassured that God loves me and that no matter what was to come, God would be by my side.

So come to the Lessons and Carols service this Sunday. Come to listen to the music and sing the hymns. Come to hear the story of our faith. Come to sit surrounded by your church family or to find a church family. Come to be reminded that God loves us all and will always be with us. Come for whatever reason you choose – just come. It will be glorious.