The youth choir shuffled into their places on the risers. A group of mostly undersized preteens and gangly teenagers dressed in formal choir attire faced the crowd populated mostly by senior citizens. Soft light filtered through the stained glass windows of St. Stephen’s church.
Two songs were French, one an old Latin tune, and one, Bring the Torch Jeannette Isabella, a provincial French carol (first published in 1553) performed by this disparate group of Spokane singers on a Friday afternoon.
They were quite good! I nodded my head along with the the elderly gentlemen and blue-haired ladies in the audience and took in the harmonies and the hush of the church. But I couldn’t take my eyes off of one boy in particular.
He was every bit the iconic choir boy. Young, cherubic even, his voice was high and clear. But it was his smiling eyes, the joy and expectation in his expression. He was completely unaware of his face, his sparkling eyes, the pure joy in his features.
I’ve never seen anyone perform without any contrivance of feature. His pleasure in singing was evident throughout the entire performance. Simply put, he was having fun!
As they sang the old French carol, it was almost as if he could see the Christ child as he intoned:
Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella!
Bring a torch, to Bethlehem come!
Christ is born. Tell the folk of the village
Mary has laid him in a manger.
Ah! Ah! beautiful is the Mother!
Ah! Ah! beautiful is her child!
It is wrong when the Baby is sleeping,
It is wrong to speak so loud.
Silence, now as you gather around,
Lest your noise should waken Jesus.
Hush! Hush! see how the Baby slumbers;
Hush! Hush! see how the Baby sleeps!
Softly now unto the stable,
Softly for a moment come!
Look and see how charming is Jesus,
Look at him there, His cheeks are rosy!
Hush! Hush! see how the Child is sleeping;
Hush! Hush! see how he smiles in dreams!
Does my heart joyfully seek the arrival of Jesus? Is the expression of my soul one of open expectation, pure hope and certainty?
Christmas is a busy time. But why? Why aren’t we looking to the heavens, breath abated, for our coming savior? Ah, life, it’s demanding and the traditions are fun. We want to celebrate with family, give thoughtful gifts, and pay the bills, too. But I need to remember the Friday afternoon choir boy, and his eyes that shone as the Bethlehem star and Hush!Hush! my spirit and see with the eyes of my spirit, how charming is Jesus, how beautiful his smile.
I need to remember to sing.
Scripture: Luke 1:39-45
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for hoy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
Inspiration: God’s Truth For Us
All I can say today is we need to look at the responses of Mary and her cousin, Elizabeth and ask God to give us faith like these women.
Mary knew Elizabeth was herself with child, the angel Gabriel had told her so. We don’t know if Mary sought the company and encouragement of her old cousin before or after she spoke to Joseph about the angel’s visit, but I suppose it was before. Remember, Mary was deeply troubled, shaken to the core of her being, over this announcement and the wild-what-if’s and ramifications of a pre-marital pregnancy. So, she took her cue from Gabriel and flew to the home of Zechariah.
Both women were chosen to give the world the Gift of Life.
The Holy Spirit connected these two women–one old and shriveled, one young, dewy and innocent–and both were the better for the fellowship.
Baby’s were leaping in the womb, prophetic words were spoken, hugs and happy tears I’m sure were shared.
I love the ways God works!
But we have a choice, always, whether or not we will cooperate with his plans. Verse 45 says:
Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!
Indeed. But again we see the overarching story. We know Mary was crushed to her very soul when she watched her son suffer on the cross. We know she was concerned about him as he began his ministry. We know she learned early on that this baby was not hers, but God’s, and the World’s.
But happy. Happy is she who believes. She who believes that what the Lord says will be accomplished.
Mission: Take Away
Mary chose to cooperate. She chose to seek fellowship and encouragement. And most of all, she chose to believe that God would make good on his word. Do I?
Do we look into the scripture and really lay hold of what the Lord says he’ll accomplish in us?
Do we believe that we are new creations, renewed by faith in Jesus Christ?
Do we believe we can have personal victory over the struggles and sins that threaten to control us?
Do we believe that we are sealed, marked and saved, set apart and fully redeemed by the Holy Spirit?
Do we believe that he will complete the work he started in us?
Do we believe that Jesus is coming again?
Are we waiting expectant?
Are we remembering the new identity and promises and the fresh hope he’s given us and saying, “Hush! Hush! I think he’s coming soon!”?
Run to find Jesus! You are sure to find this amazing savior who promised to give you life in exchange for death, eternal mercy and joy instead of dark isolation, and a restored position as a child of the Most High God! Because God is a fulfiller of promises.
Play: Have Fun!
Write thank you notes to God for his gift of Jesus Christ.
What does Jesus mean to you? How does knowing him, being chosen by him, change the way you live? Tell him in a letter. Gather your family member’s letters, and wrap them in a box and place under your tree. Give him your life, your gratitude, your belief and see what he will accomplish!
Sing even if you aren’t a choir boy. Make time to sing with others about Jesus. It does something good for the soul. (I get to be part of a caroling flash mob at the mall this weekend! Fun!)
Love: In Action
Mary sought the comfort and friendship of Elizabeth in a time of crisis. Do I reach out to others for real encouragement or commiseration when I am troubled? Do I have people in my life that are further along in their personal walk with Jesus that I can call on for true friendship?
Am I open to being vulnerable with these people; am I willing to be needy?
We live in an era of independence. Do we know how to foster friendships that are honest and mutually supportive?
On the flip side, can I be that person someone calls on? Am I available to simply be a friend? Do I lovingly serve up truth, homestyle and honest?
God’s story would be no story at all had he not created people and had he not allowed us to be free-willed folks. He knew the risk, but he also cannot doubt his own sovereignty. However bleak or confusing our lives may seem to be at times, God is able! He will finish his story in us! He wants us to be in relationship with him, and with one another.
His story is best told in our active love for one another.
Yes, And Amen
Why am I so favored that the Lord should come to me? Why have you, Heavenly Father, stooped down, scooped me up, brushed the humus of this world off my soul and called me your own? Certainly not because of anything I’ve done. Certainly not because of what I can do for you. Is it because you can’t help yourself? Is it because you’ve seen me in the dirt of my own making and in your great love, found yourself moved with compassion for me? Yes, amen. And thank you. Help me to rest in joy, in the friendship you’ve given me, in your inexhaustible grace. I am grateful, Lord, that you’ve chosen to love me. Give me arms that reach out to others, hands that serve with your tenderness, and a song that joyfully invites others to come! and see the beauty of Jesus.