7th December 2017
Those of you who were at King’s on Sunday will have heard me talk about my wife Deb’s first experience of coming to a church carol service – a spur of the moment decision that turned out to be quite significant for her! As we approach our carol service season, I thought you might be interested to hear the story from her point of view. So, here is my wife Deb, in her own words!
As Steve said on Sunday, I was not brought up in a Christian home. I think he actually said that I had never been to church before going to a carol service, but that is not quite true! I remember a burst of interest in Christianity when I was about thirteen, which led me to visit two different churches. One was with my grandfather, who was a Catholic, and the other was with my friend Anne, who went to a Church of England church. My memories of both occasions are of feeling terribly out of place – everyone except me seemed to know what to do: when to stand up, sit down, go forward for communion (what was that about?) and how to follow the service in some book we were given! It was rather bewildering and seemed pretty meaningless at the time. My brief exploration of Christianity ended after a month or so, and I decided at the beginning of my teens that I was an atheist!
Roll on several years to Christmas Eve 1982, when I was seventeen. I was in a local pub with some school friends and as last orders were being called, someone suggested going to the midnight candlelight service at the church up the road. She knew the church and promised we would enjoy it. The thought of singing carols by candlelight sounded suitably Christmassy, so off we all went.
My initial impressions were not what I expected: the church was warm (I’d assumed I’d need my coat), full of people who were all talking and clearly happy to be there, and welcoming. We were given a candle, a hymn book and shown to a seat. This was in the days before we worried about issues of health and safety, and with several hundred people packed into the church, each holding a burning candle, there was a beautiful warm glow in the room. It was quite atmospheric, and I began to feel intrigued about what lay ahead.
I remember being surprised by the volume of the voices as we sang the first carol. Not only did the people here enjoy singing, they also sounded as if they believed it. There were no embarrassing moments where I didn’t know what to do, and everyone seemed remarkably relaxed. But what I remember most clearly, and what I realise now, is that this was the first time I heard the gospel. At some point in the service there was a drama, during which a young woman stood in the middle of the stage with a torch and talked about Jesus being ‘the light of the world’. It was a simple message; it didn’t answer all my questions, but it caught my attention.
It was another 14 months before I actually gave my life to Christ, but that carol service in 1982 marked the beginning of my journey to faith. It left me with a positive impression of church. It caused me to question my unbelief and gave me a desire to find out more. It was some months before I acted on that desire, but the seed was planted on Christmas Eve, 1982.
That is Deb’s story, and I am very grateful to the friend who invited her to that carol service. This Sunday marks the beginning of our carol service weekends at King’s, and I want to encourage you once again to invite your friends and family. I hope Deb’s story will be an encouragement to you. Who knows – perhaps your invitation will be the beginning of someone’s own journey of faith?
All our carol services are listed below, and more details can be found on the website.
SUN 10 DEC
SAT 16 DEC
SUN 17 DEC
9.30am & 11.30am† Catford
5pm Catford & Downham
* with British Sign Language interpretation
† with kids' work for 0-9s
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.