Saturday, December 24, 2011

Carol Services: Fresh Expressions of English Heritage?

It struck me the other day that there's a few parallels between the Christmas Carol Service experience, and that offered by English Heritage and the National Trust. In some of the historic premises round the UK, as you walk into a room you'll find someone dressed in period costume, speaking period language, in a room set out as it would have been in Georgian/Victorian/Tudor/etc. times. The idea is for a more 'immersive' experience of the history of the place. And no matter how good or authentic the experience, it would be an odd NT or EH member who would go back every month, never mind every week, for the same experience.

So it's probably unrealistic of church folk to expect that the people who come for their 'immersive' Christmas experience -  period building, period costume, period carols, ancient readings - to come back any more than annually. The Christmas experience itself is so 'one off' that churches couldn't duplicate it the rest of the year, even if we wanted to.

Maybe more appropriate would be a guide book to explain all the period fittings and what they mean. In our case, a glossary for the language used in the carols would probably be pretty handy: begotten, seraph, abhors, 'God of God, light of light', strain, Messiah, Christ, etc.

On simliar lines, David Cooke asks 'who do we do our carol services for?'

Anyway, the final straight beckons: 2 Nativity services (we do it in 2 shifts because the church can't hold the 200-300 people who come along), 11pm communion, and then The Day itself. God with us. Have a wonderful Christmas, and may you be immersed in the grace and goodness of Jesus.

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