Friday evening was our first (and given current over-reaction to a virus with a case mortality rate of 0.011, possibly last) Christmas music outing of the year.
It was a fabulous carols in the park put on by a local church.
Aside from family enjoyment and Christian enthrallment, I learnt two things:
1. Joy to the World is not, properly, a Christmas carol. It is a second coming hymn. Now it all makes sense...not that I'm sure it didn't make sense before, but if a carol, it has a basic conflict with the scripture in Matthew 10:34.
2. Small choirs do not work well in large open spaces without good mic-ing and a reflective screen behind. There were also teething problems with sound mixing, instrumental density and depth (and probably mixing again, but then I'm a big symphony/heavy rock chap from way back). Plus, don't get congregations to sing complex professional singer arrangements. They are too hard for occasional singers. Then, decide if you are putting lyrics or images on the big screen - and rehearse to ensure lyrics shown match what the singers on stage are doing. But these are minor compared to the wonderful evening we all had.
Inevitably the 'clear gospel' message was given. Only, it was hardly clear, viz: "Jesus came to save us from our sins."
Great. What are 'sins'? asks the average person...and many Christians too, from my observations.
This is the old habit of the modern church: it's the novice salesman error of selling on features, not benefits.
'Save from sin' is a feature, but what's the benefit?
The benefit is Jesus came to resolve the fracturing of life we see and experience, to restore us to relationship with God which is universally fractured because we choose to live in rejection of our Creator. The ultimate benefit Jesus brings is not 'no more sin', but resolution of our god-rejection by his demonstrated victory over it in his resurrection. In this he foreshadows the resurrection of all his followers for life with him forever in his New Creation.
A bit wordy, but its the sort of existential punch that is needed, and it connects with the commonly experienced frustration of a life designed for eternity with God, living in rejection of him.