Jesus Christ and John the Baptist: let us prepare the way of the LORD with sincere worship and open hearts.
The shepherds told everyone what the angel had said to them about the child (Luke 2:17).
Who were the very first people to spread the good news about Jesus Christ? Peter? John? Paul? Nope. Surprise! It was the shepherds at Jesus’ birth! As the Gospel of Luke tells us, these humble peasants proclaimed the good news when they arrived at the manger. They shared with all there (including Mary and Joseph) the angel’s announcement that this infant was “the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord!”
The astonished journey of the shepherds to the manger forms the background to one of my favorite Christmas carols, “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” I was reminded how much I love it at last Sunday’s Service of Lessons and Carols.
Becca Gater and the choir sang lines from it with such spirit! You couldn’t help but clap and shout. An unforgettable moment. So I thought I would fill you in on a bit of the song’s background.
In our sanctuary hymnal (# 115), the words to the carol are assigned in the upper left corner to “John W. Work II, 1907.” That’s half the story. Like so many carols, this one had a long history of revisions. John Work the 2nd had edited the words as received from his father, John Work the 1st, and his (that is, the father’s) words were in turn edits of the original he had discovered somewhere in the South. In fact, the original words were the “work” of some unknown slave or group of slaves.
John Work Sr. and John Work Jr. –and even John Work the 3rd—were trained musicians. Themselves African Americans, they recognized the inestimable value of Negro Spirituals and made it their calling to rescue dozens from oblivion. Among them is “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” a spiritual that doesn’t fit the norm. Most focus on suffering and the hope of deliverance. They do so for obvious reasons: slavery and its chains. But this spiritual is different. It is about Christmas, and it captures well the joyful wonder of lowly shepherds who see an angel, hear good news, visit the Christ, and proclaim who he is.
Adult Ed: Theology Class will meet at 9:30 a.m. in the Library. This is the final class in this series.
Adult Ed: 1 Corinthians Class will meet at 9:30 a.m. in the Adult Ed room. This is the final class in this series.
All Church Christmas Party: Today at 5:00 p.m. we will have a Christmas Pageant, Gingerbread House Making, & Supper. Please join us for fellowship and fun!
Coat Closet Cleanup: Casserole Dishes, Baking Pans, etc. There are a number of baking items along with other "lost and found" items on the shelves in the coat closet. If you have any items stored up there and/or if you may have lost something here at the church, please retrieve your items. We will be cleaning off these shelves and donating any unclaimed items at the end of the year.
Recovery/Support Group Facilitators Needed: NO experience necessary! Do you have a heart for those in deep pain? Have you learned valuable lessons and experienced healing from losses and deep wounds of the heart? Would you like to help others to do the same? If so, please contact Amy Hellesen at 201-317-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about being a group facilitator for DivorceCare which starts February 3, 2018. Training is provided.
Van Drivers Needed: We need more drivers to help with shuttling. Please contact Bill Van Zandt at email@example.com to serve as a driver.
SAVE THE DATE: Stone Hill Arts Series presents a performance by the Eastern Wind Symphony on the evening of February 10, 2018.
SAVE THE DATE: The 2018 Men's Retreat will be March 9-11 at America's Keswick. If you would to help organize the retreat, please contact Brian Edgerly at firstname.lastname@example.org.