During Advent this year, I am reflecting daily using this Advent Photo Devotional. The word designated for December 18th was #Join.
One of my favorite Christmas carols is “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” I have lots of reasons why it’s one of my favorites, but there’s one fond memory that sticks out more than most. In college at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), I had the great joy of singing each year in my university’s Christmas Concert series as part of the University Chorale and the Choir of the West. My future wife, and girlfriend during senior year, Allison, also had the joy of playing cello as part of the University Symphony Orchestra in those concerts.
As is a common practice among church schools, Christmas concerts have elements of worship reflection as part of them, including carol and hymn singing by the audience/congregation. One of the carols that is usually used is “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” For the choirs and ensembles the carols are also moving time, where you change places in the venue, or swap spaces on stage with the other choir. During senior year, my walking route took me right past the cello section onto the stage during the carol. Allison was going to town on the cello, and I was singing boldly too. But I couldn’t help but notice, she had tears coming down her face while playing. I kept my eyes out the next day at the next concert in the series, the same thing. This happened each concert.
These are tears of joy, which I believe are a response to joining together in singing and telling the story and proclaiming the good news of God come near, “now in flesh appearing.”
I may have kidded Allison a bit over the years about this, but deep down I love it because it just shows how genuinely connected she is to the carol’s message. And to be fair, in the many years since where Allison and I have led the music and worship together in a number of congregations, I have always been touched to see the tear come down her face when playing boldly and joyfully on “O Come All Ye Faithful,” while I am singing or playing piano right next to her.
I invite you to join this week as we are in the home stretch towards Christmas Eve, to be as bold as you feel called to be in your singing and proclamation. I invite you to let the emotions flow, whatever they might be. For my wife it might be a tear on a favorite carol. For me, it might be a smile to see the look in someone’s eyes as they remember the good news of Bethlehem, or, if a young family, perhaps hear it in a certain way for the first time.
How do you join in this time of year? How do you invite others to join with you?