Quite often, when I’m driving, I listen to classical music on the radio, and at this time of year that includes Christmas carols. These are usually sung by one of the cathedral choirs, a polished performance by trained singers. Over the years I’ve also attended many carol services in Church, and am aware that much practising has gone on in the weeks before, to try to emulate the same kind of standard.
Recently I was invited to go to a carol service being put on by one of the local churches for a uniformed youth organisation with branches in the area. I watched them arrive, all smart in their uniforms for the occasion, and was quite surprised as the service leader went up to greet them, and asked for a volunteer to either read from the bible or sing a solo verse. Some volunteered happily and others were pushed forward by their peers.
As the service got underway, the music was led by a group of musicians who obviously had been practising together for a while. Then the first volunteer came forward to read. I knew he had been one pushed forward by his friends, a lad of about 16.
He struggled a bit and stumbled over some of the words, but got through quite well. As he finished, his group, and the whole congregation, broke into spontaneous applause, not what usually happens at a carol Service.
I watched the leader’s face, it was quite apparent that she had a real heart for these youngsters, and also a gifting in evangelism, but she clearly hadn’t expected the applause. I also saw the young man’s face, and he was obviously delighted that his efforts met with this approval.
After that, as each of the others took their turn at the solo piece they’d been asked to do, there was applause, although they were far from practised or polished performances, and I watched all their faces reflect the delight and encouragement that was in their hearts.
It was one of the most memorable and delightful carol Services I have ever been to, mainly because these, mostly unchurched, youngsters had such a fun time; due partly to the gifting of the leader, but mainly because of the encouragement.
This got me thinking and reflecting on the exhortation in today’s scripture verse to encourage one another. It’s an instruction that’s repeated several times over in the Bible. I felt that God had given me a little window into the value and importance of it; having always thought it meant encourage one another in faith and walking in the Kingdom, but seeing that it’s much bigger than that.
There was a definite sense that seeds were being planted in these young people that have the potential to grow into who knows what amazing fruit in the future. I’m praying that God will help me to encourage people more. Please join me.
Prayer: Dear Lord, please help me by Your Holy Spirit to be more encouraging to the people I meet every day. Show me the good things in each one and remind me to affirm them in those things. Amen.
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