First of all, let it go on record that Michael D. Larson and I are skeptical about a Sunday After Christmas Sing-A-Long Service. We are both decidedly traditional when it comes to a Lessons and Carols service. Isn’t that right Michael?
The service of Lessons and Carols, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, began at Kings College of Cambridge University in 1918. The format includes a specific list of readings combined with choral and instrumental selections unmistakably reflective of those readings. According to our experience and preference, Lessons and Carols DOES NOT include members of the congregation calling out their favorite Christmas hymns from the pews. NOR (ach hmmm) does it include the pastor having to preach a sermon that day. That’s one that escaped my attention when Allison and Darcy told us, “It’s really very fun. You should give it a try at least one year. So here we are, you all get to call out your favorite hymns … I get to preach the Sunday after Christmas for the first time in 15 years … and Michael gets to compromise his impeccable music and worship sensibilities. What can I say, sometimes you have to practice what you preach … all that stuff about adapting and giving change a chance that we pastors like to throw out at congregations … well, sometimes it comes back and bites you in the butt.
All kidding aside, though, the truth is that over the years I’ve many times regretted not being able to preach the First Sunday after Christmas because the reading from the Gospel is such a poignant lesson. And, not only is it poignant but it is pertinent not just to the Jesus story but to our stories as well. I don’t think there is a father in the world who hasn’t spent time being anxious about his child, especially as that child has approached adolescence and began the process of finding his or her own way in the world. I don’t think that there is a mother on earth who hasn’t stood by, taken it all in and wondered what in the world is happening to that sweet little one who now suddenly has a mind of their own. And, I’ll be really surprised if any of you can show me a teenager who hasn’t felt misunderstood by their parents and entitled to be treated like an adult even when they are making naïve if not really stupid choices.