A Truck, a Piano and the Christmas Story
By Wendy Rush.
Is the tradition of Christmas carolling in Australia just a memory? Big annual events like Carols by Candlelight featuring a host of celebrity artists still attract thousands of people. And if you are lucky enough to live in a community where a church or city council organises Carols in a local park you may have enjoyed setting up your folding chair and singing along with hundreds of others. But when was the last time you saw, or heard, a group of carollers in your street?
My husband and I used to look forward to a local brass band marching past our house every year. We would follow them as they stopped in front of every third or fourth house to play a few songs purely for the enjoyment of the residents. When I was a teenager I would join our church youth group on the back of a truck and sing out the Christmas story as we were driven up and down the streets. This was before the days of recorded backing tracks and outdoor PA equipment, so the organisers used to hoist a piano on to the truck and the pianist would pound away as loudly as they could while trying to remain upright as the truck swung around corners!
These were the things that told us Christmas was here. And they were the experiences that united a community as people were drawn out of their homes and onto the footpaths. We sang, we laughed, we waved and we wished each other well for the Festive Season. And the message and spirit of Christmas were kept alive by our enthusiastic, if not always tuneful, carolling.
Even as a teenager the thing that struck me most was the difference our visits made to those who were housebound . The elderly, the disabled, those with very young children and the lonely were, for a short time, transported from their isolation and made to feel a part of the community.
I am really pleased to hear that there is a movement to restore this great tradition and that churches around Australia are being encouraged to participate.
Carols by Streetlight
By Astrid Priest
My name is Astrid, and I love Christmas. I always have. My mum in particular made it so special when I was a child and I really cherish those memories. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood the real story of Christmas and then it took on a whole new meaning.
A virgin mother, a baby born in a stable, shepherds hearing the news from angels and wise men travelling from afar to visit this new born King – this is how God makes something special. There is no wonder so many Carols were written celebrating what happened that first Christmas.
I was sitting in my lounge a couple of years ago and heard some Carol singers in my street. It was beautiful. I’d never heard carollers before and it actually brought me to tears. The message of Christ coming to earth as a baby, put to song, is truly powerful.
It got me thinking; would it be possible to get churches across Australia to send out groups of Carol singers into their local communities? I wondered what impact it would have and I realised it’s potentially HUGE! Not only is it a chance to take the true Christmas message of Christ coming to earth as God in human form into the community, it’s also a wonderful opportunity for churches of all denominations, sizes and locations to join together with the same heart. It is easy, and it offers a great opportunity for people to connect in a really positive way.
Everyone that I have shared the idea with has caught the vision and so we have put together Carols by Streetlight; a movement that encourages Christian churches across Australia to sing the Christmas story into the heart of their community. We started last Christmas with our local church, sending out 2 groups and having loads of fun. We had one smaller group of adults and a large group of families who received some lovely comments as people called out encouragement from their houses and as others that we met in the street stopped to listen.
One thing I love about this initiative is that it is so easy to get involved. It’s not something that you need to spend lots of time organising. It is as simple as getting a group of people together and going for a walk through the streets singing Carols that share the true meaning of Christmas in the week leading up to Christmas Day. You don’t need to be a great singer to be part of a group. We found that a group of around 10 people was a very comfortable size for any singing ability. It is also something that people of all ages can participate in. We had grandparents and little children come along and everyone enjoyed it.
We would love you to organize a group next Christmas and help us spread the movement across Australia. Visit our website at www.carolsbystreetlight.org and let us know where you will be singing so we can encourage each other and see Australia blessed with the sound of Carols. We hope to see Carols by Streetlight grow in the years to come and the true meaning of Christmas celebrated right across our wonderful nation.
Join us as we take “Joy to the World” at Christmas.
Visit caroslbystreetlight.org for more information or find us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.