Our Carol Service encourages us all to connect with the spiritual side of this holiday season, whatever our faith or beliefs. Through music and words, we take a close look at our lives and the world around us, and ask how might we make both of these things better.
Reverend Fletcher works with students each year to help them come up with original reflections on Christmas, this year by examining the story of Jesus’ birth and the wisdom we can all find in this often-told story. Below are a few of their thoughts and two choral performances from the evening.
Student Reflections (Part 1)
Read by Georgia and Triumph
Although often read as if it were a cozy narrative, there’s a lot of fear at play in the story of Jesus’ birth. When an angel first appears to Mary, she is told, “Be not afraid.” When the angel appears to the shepherds, they’re urged, “Be not afraid.” In a dream, Joseph is instructed to not be afraid of taking Mary as his wife. We’re told that even King Herod the Great experiences fear, when he hears from the Magi that his replacement has been born. In a very short story, that’s a lot of fear. And when we thought about it, the fear seems to be associated with being challenged to leave one path and take up another.
Think about it. Mary was going about her very conventional life, appropriately engaged to Joseph, when the Angel appears to her. Of course, the appearance of a celestial being would have been enough to cause fear, but add the message that she’ll somehow conceive an extraordinary child who will fulfil remarkable expectations in a way that goes against all the social norms and you have a very distressing situation. One moment her life is ordinary. The next, she’s being asked to accept a completely different path. And yet here’s the thing – she walks it, not in a meek and mild sort of way, but in an empowered, take-on-the-world kind of way.
We may not receive visits from angels, but aren’t there times in our lives when we wonder if we’re on the right path? And isn’t it true that sometimes we hold our course, not because our path is great, but because there’s some sort of fear attached to the notion of changing direction? The answers aren’t easy. Our next reflection talks about how we feel this ancient story informs our lives today.
Student Reflections (Part 2)
Read by Dalal and Sasha
We’re all on a path. We have our routines: some are small things, like the breakfast we choose to eat over and over again. Others are bigger, like the people whom we choose to hang out with. Or how we choose to spend our spare time. More often than not, we follow a particular path without giving it much thought at all. It’s the path that our parents followed or the one that our peers seem to be following. When we get used to it, we know what to expect; we get comfortable.
It gets comfortable, not just because it’s familiar, but because it’s comfortable compared to the alternative of changing our path. If we change, those same people may not approve. We might find ourselves on the outside. And who needs that stress? We’re already feeling the pressure of work and school.
Yet, there are times when we do catch a glimpse of a different path from the one we’re taking. It’s not that an angel talks to us or that we have a vision filled dream or that stars or heavenly host appear in the sky, sometimes it’s a push from another person; other times it’s a thought that comes to us, triggered by a new detail that catches our attention. Suddenly, we find ourselves looking at our path and wondering, “Am I where I should be?”
It’s not that we must change, but that we mustn’t let fear hold us back from making the changes we should make.