Christmas Eve 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Nine Lessons and Carols service held at King’s College in Cambridge, England. Many churches include this meaningful service as part of their Advent lineup. It is a service celebrating the birth of Jesus by following the story of the fall of man and the promise of the Messiah in the scriptures. The nine lessons are Bible readings from Genesis, Isaiah and Gospels are presented in between hymns and Christmas carols. These lessons remind us how our minds became corrupted and why we need the mind of God.
I love this service because it teaches how Jesus’ birth will restore my mind. The basic lessons are:
- God announces in the Garden of Eden that the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head. Genesis 3:8—15.
- God promises to faithful Abraham that in his seed shall the nations of the earth be blessed. Genesis 22:15–18.
- Christ’s birth and kingdom are foretold by Isaiah. Isaiah 9:2,6–7.
- The peace that Christ will bring is foreshown. Isaiah 11:1–9.
- The angel Gabriel salutes the virgin Mary. Luke 1:26–38.
- Matthew tells of the birth of Jesus. Matthew 1:18–23.
- The shepherds go to the manger. Luke 2:8–16.
- The wise men are led by the star to Jesus. Matthew 2:1–11
- John unfolds the great mystery of the incarnation. John 1:1–14
One of the results of the fall is that our minds have become corrupted. This is why we need to use the Scriptures, prayer, and the presence of the Holy Spirit to renew our minds. We need Christ to come into our minds to restore us to sanity. It’s incredible to see how easily we sabotage ourselves by our self-talk and the wrong beliefs we hold about ourselves and our God. Satan’s most common tool to destroy is to send thoughts like fiery darts into our minds (Eph. 6:16). He lies to us about God, who we are and what this life is all about.
Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Advent offers many opportunities to consider “What am I thinking?” We need to think about what we think. In Advent we are bombarded with idealized distortions of what makes up a perfect holiday. The patterns of this world will definitely numb us from the explosion of heaven that draws us into living for what is not seen, rather than what is seen (2 Cor. 4:18). Advent asks us to look ahead to the future coming of Christ. Though we can see our lives are far from what God originally created them to become, we believe that living through the hardships is producing future glory that He promises.
When Christ reigns over our minds at Advent, we hope for future glory in His eternal kingdom; and we don’t grow weary of our trials or numb ourselves with the offerings of the world.