Wesley Methodist Church welcomed our community to its two combined services on 25 December 2023 to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Nativity scene, check.
Advent wreath, check.
Advent and Christ candles, check.
It was Christmas and, of course, the must-haves were in place.
Yet, the nativity scene, ensconced to the right of the alcove, was an archetype of abject humility. As if to emphasise the spartan conditions, the entire exhibit was in a dour shade of brown. It belied the spirit of Christmas.
The altar, with its floral arrangements, was an island of repose and tranquility. Taking pride of place in the centre with the cross were the Holy Bible, the Advent wreath, the four Advent candles, the Christ candle and a floral display. The beautiful presentation of vibrantly-coloured flowers with variegated foliage was simply a delight to behold. They help us remember Christmas is the celebration of the coming of Christ.
The prelude of the service “A Christmas Collage” was performed by the orchestra consisting of the string, woodwind, brass and percussion sections and accompanied by a pianist.
Aptly, the service opened with several hymns by the orchestra to celebrate the occasion. The first hymn “Good Christian Men, Rejoice” was an ebullient rendition and an ode to the glad tidings which Christmas brings. This was followed by Bach’s Baroque piece, “Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring”, and segued lithely to “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear” and “O Holy Night”. A delightful medley of “Good Christian Men, Rejoice” by the choir wrapped up the canticle opening.
The service intertwined more Christmas carol singing by the congregation with Scripture readings, prayers and the lighting of the four Advent candles and the Christ candle.
The Christmas message, “Perfect”, was delivered by Rev Raymond Fong based on Galatians 4: 4–5, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship”. (Listen to the recorded Christmas message here.)
The Wesley Christmas service closed with more Yuletide singing, reminding everyone that Christmas is all about the love, hope and joy Jesus brings to the troubled world we live in. Judging by the appreciative smiles all around the sanctuary, God’s hand was certainly evident in every aspect of the service, from the music to the message.
God’s Presence at the service, check.
As Billy Graham once said: Christmas is not a myth, not a tradition, not a dream. It is a glorious reality.
Musings of the congregation…
The Christmas sermon has been a reminder that just as God keeps His word, His perfect purposes would be accomplished in His Kairos time. – Isaac Koh
It was beautiful to be able to sing Christmas carols with the accompaniment of the Wesley orchestra. My husband and I usually play in the orchestra but this year, for the first time, we got to enjoy the music in the audience. It was a wonderful experience that really reflected the glory of Christ’s birth and the feeling of Christmas. – Yolyn Ang
The sermon was meaningful and comforting, perfect in these troubled times. The children’s choir at the end of the service was short and sweet. – Ng Su-May
The Christmas Service was very well put together and obviously much thought had gone into the planning! It was worthy of a tradition which has been practised every year for 2,000 years as Christians remember the perfect gift of God! The liturgy, hymns and responsive reading all complemented each other. It was indeed a great joy to sing with my family and praise our Great God who is worthy to receive our highest praise! – Frances Lim
(Photos by Jon Chia)
More Christmas (Traditional) Service photos are available at Photo Gallery