Jesus wept. – By @currantjones
By Tommy Currant
I had a little cry today. I don’t cry a lot. I used to. I used to cry at everything. I once cried because I got put on the year 4 cricket team and I didn’t want to be. Increasing age however has proven to be inversely proportional to tears shed.
Why did I cry today, I hear you ask. Probably a variety of reasons. It’s approaching the end of a long term, at a really hard school that pushes you to do really hard things. That is certainly enough to make someone emotional. Last Thursday was pretty terrible. There was the obvious, the country choosing the side of fear and ignorance but I also got dumped on. A two for one on reasons to weep.
But none of these things were the trigger. They may have primed me but what set me off was a Christmas Carol service. The SCA has taught me well, and as I sat there sniffling I began wondering what communication lessons we could learn from this. So here we go.
I’m not at all religious nor was I brought up in a religious household. My grandmother did try to secretly baptise my sister once but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, while I broadly agree with the message of the New Testament (be nice and try to think about other people more than yourself) I’ve never been super keen on organised religion of any flavour. “So why were you at a carol service, Tommy?” Thanks for asking.
Carols are a chance to have a go. Most church services aren’t about you. You listen to some readings, you get talked at by the priest (or similar) and then your moment of glory is heading to the front for a light snack of wine and crackers. But not a carol service. Sure you’ve got to listen six lessons but you can feel the excitement in the room. Every person looking at their order of service knowing that they get to do a bit next. My parents and I, the secularisation of Christmas helping a bit, headed to church because we wanted to be involved.
People trust what they know. I would usually worry a church service would be full of pitfalls and arcane traditions I wouldn’t be aware of. But a carol service is a cake walk. The songs are well known and the tunes are, for the most part, easy to follow. You even get given a book telling you when to stand up and sit down. But an important take away is you can’t suddenly change the rules. If you choose, without warning, to throw a descant in at the end of O Come, all ye faithful, you will confuse and anger your audience.
During the service my favourite line from the Bible was read. “And the light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it.” A simple and a powerful message of hope for dark times. But it didn’t make me cry. What made me cry was a small girl holding a candle, walking through a quiet church, lit only by the light she was carrying and a Christmas tree. There are no words as powerful as that moment. No words will capture the joy on her face at being given an important role. No words to describe the feeling of lost innocence every adult must have felt watching her. And no words for the power of a single candle, flickering in a darkened room. Copywriters, know when you don’t need to say anything.
So there are some lessons from a cold Sunday at the end of a dark week. The light does shine in the darkness though and the more opportunities we can find to come together to share messages of peace and goodwill, the brighter that light will shine.