Rejoice; and again I say, Rejoice

Third Sunday in Advent                                     16th  December 2012

 Welcome to worship today as the children of our Church present the joyful message of Christmas in the form of two separate plays. The younger children will be putting on a musical presentation called Hey Ewe!  And the older children are inviting us to enter into a play called The Mysterious Christmas Card.  What a joy it is the be part of a church where we have such a diverse worship life because we have so people from a broad spectrum of ages, cultural backgrounds and social contexts.  Such diversity offers a rich flavour in our weekly worship experiences.

This third Sunday in Advent is called Gaudete Sunday because the lectionary reading from Philippians 4:4,5 says in Latin “Gaudete in Domino semper” which means, “Rejoice in the Lord Always”.  Today we will rejoice as the children lead us in worship.  A big thank you to Sharon and Kristie who produced the plays and for the costume people and parents who assisted in making everything “happen” on the day.  Hey Ewe will be presented again at the Children’s Fun Day on Tuesday and again on Wednesday afternoon at 4pm at Elston Lodge.  You are welcome to join us at Elston Lodge if you can.

When it comes to talking about children and Christmas, let me share an interesting story that I came across some time ago.  In the not-so-tolerant past (16-19th Century), music and poetry were often used as the media of expression for ideas that were not in fashion with the contemporary powers that be.  Mother Goose rhymes were disguised political commentaries of their day.  The twelve Days of Christmas was written along these lines.

From 1558 until 1892, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly.  So, the Twelve Days of Christmas was written during that era as a catechism song to teach young Catholics, according to Ann Ball’s book, “A Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals.”  It has two levels of meaning:  the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning only known to members of the church.  Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality that the children could remember.

  • The partridge in a pear three was Jesus Crist
  • Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments
  • Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love
  • The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
  • The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, which are the first five books of the Old Testament: – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
  • The six geese are laying, stands for the six (6) days of creation
  • Seven swans are swimming represent the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit – Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution/giving, Leadership, and Mercy.
  • Eight maids are milking were the beatitudes (Matt 5)
  • Nine Ladies dancing were the 9 Fruit of the Spirit   (Galatians 5:23,23)
  • Ten Lords a-leaping were the ten (10) commandments
  • The Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven (11) faithful disciples.
  • The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve (12) points of belief in the Apostles Creed.

It’s interesting and sad that a song written to secretly to remind Christians about the doctrines of their faith was disguised so well that after 400 years, the secular world more identifies with this carol than do Christians who remain mostly unaware of its origins and meanings.

As the children present their plays and songs today, may we be wide awake to the meaning and message of the Gospel on every level.

Rejoice in the Lord always….and again I say REJOICE!……Rev. Brad Foote

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