On Friday evening, in anticipation and preparation for the ‘Lessons and Carols’ this coming Sunday afternoon, a group of singers gathered around our organist and choirmaster Stephen Brown.
The occasion was one of joy, but also one of weight and one of calling.
Given the number of folk who attend this service to whom Carols are unknown or known about but not experienced – it falls on those for whom Carols are almost part of their cultural DNA to lead the singing and support the congregation. That much is possibly self evident.
What came as a delight to those of us rehearsing as the Scratch Choir for this year – was how the phrasing in singing and leading those Carols helped or hindered the ‘Telling of the Narrative”. As such, the musical telling alongside the Bible Readings, bore the calling of the gospel writers who encourage us all to share the good news of God’s coming and dwelling among us.
It fits well with what was in the musings last week about the difference between an act of worship, and a sing-along event or even a concert.
The scratch choir has room for more singers – come and join the final rehearsal on Sunday @15.00 in the Leonhardskirche (get off at Rathaus stop / Olgaeck / Charlottenplatz)
The Readers (8 plus understudy) – come please for rehearsal on Sunday @16.00
Other ways of ‘serving’, other ways of ‘worshipping’:
- pray for the service and all those taking part in it and attending it and for the projects we will be supporting this year – which you can do even if you are away on your travels already or even if you don’t live in Stuttgart, but have a link with St Catherine’s.
- make and/or bring mince pies and/or Christmas biscuits to go with the Glühwein afterwards
- support the ‘giving’ this year – which you can do even if you are away on your travels already or if you don’t live in Stuttgart but have a link with St Catherine’s.
This year’s collection from the carol service will go to the following organisations:
1) CAFÉ- STRICH- PUNKT
This association seeks to support young people in particular difficulties, often in very practical ways. This requires funding and also those able and willing to do voluntary work. The support can be online or in real time. The need can be as immediate as being homeless, or as long term as relationship-based support e.g. bridge building back into families. There is street work and consultation, drop-in and medical help and advice, plus more than can be listed. This is very local work that, we as good neighbours, have supported for a long time. http://www.verein-jugendliche.de/home/
Alongside the local support, we support at least one project that is global. At the Gospel Concert this year we helped raise 1600€ towards the building of a well in rural Yemen. Tonight we turn our focus towards the Internal Province of West Africa. The work is ‘managed’ under the Anglican Umbrella of the six dioceses in that region, in partnership with the Mission Organisation USPG which has a long standing history there. This approach combines resources and expertise in the local context, with the transparency of established, world-wide organisations.
Three countries in this region were hit by Ebola – Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone. Though the pandemic has waned, there is work to be done, not only in follow up, but also in anticipation and preparation, should Ebola return. Churches are key agents in rebuilding health facilities such as hospitals and clinics, with training of new staff and the provision of medicines and salaries for staff. Beyond such basics there are countless further areas of rebuilding infrastructure destroyed by Ebola – such as supporting those who are now vulnerable because they are orphans or widowed or have lost their livelihood and the means of financial independence. https://www.uspg.org.uk/worldwide/ipwa/
And once again:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in the land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.” Isaiah 9 v. 2