Do you remember your first Christmas experience, or your first Christmas gift?
I can remember my first Christmas worship service when I was about 4 years old. As I mentioned in prior blogs, my dad’s family was Buddhist. My grandmother, who lived with us, was especially devout. Even though my mom was Christian, she could not go to church due to my father’s religious tradition. Nowadays, it has changed a lot in Korea, just as it has in American households. But at that time, we could not imagine having two different religions in one household. However, exceptionally, I got to go to church for the first time with my friend and her family who lived next door to us. My friend invited me for their Christmas Eve special service; I think it was a special one because it was at night. I honestly do not remember what the sermon was. However, I do still remember two songs, a gift bag, and the Christmas tree, which was not a common thing to have at that time in Korea. Guess what the two songs were? They were the beautiful songs, Joy to the World and Silent Night. Silent Night was sung very slowly and repeatedly with dim lights, similar to what we do at Floris. Imagine that as a first time experience for a four-year-old girl. Also, the gift bag was very meaningful. It had a bunch of candy and a little storybook about the birth of Jesus. I remembered that I asked my mom to read it to me again and again.
When the Season comes I have often thought about this first Christmas experience, and given thanks to God for my friend who bravely invited me, and also for those thoughtful Christians who prepared the gift bags which were delivered with the Good News..
Each year, our choir and orchestra prepare the special musical worship services in Advent and Lent. The preparations usually start around half a year before the seasons begin. This year’s cantata was started in January. Rev. Miner brought me a program of a Christmas music worship service from another church, suggesting that we plan to do something like they did. It required more research and effort than the previous ones, which were written as a set. However, our attention and prayers were for a special worship, not a watched service, but an inspiring worship service where we all worship together. Where it would be something remembered like my first Christmas was. This summer I spent quiet bit of time in prayer asking what the story should be along with what music would be right. This Sunday during all morning worship services, we will hear the story about the Promised Savior Jesus; from the Creation to his birth. We truly pray not only that you come, but also that you bring your friends who may not have had a chance to enjoy a real Christmas worship experience. One where we hear the Good News that leads us to have the love, peace, and hope found only in his presence.
We decided to call this year’s cantata “A Different Kind of Gift”. The gift has many meanings: first we prepare and will lift this cantata up as our Christmas gift to the Christ child who came for us as the special gift. Secondly, we pray this cantata could be a Christmas gift to you all that brings the real meaning of Christmas to your hearts.
May the Love of God shine on our hearts through the songs that will be heard throughout our lives as a symbol of the Gift!