I’ve been doing something weird lately.
It’s January and I think most of us are feeling a bit schizophrenic. Relieved to get back to the predictable routine of catching the bus to work, and grocery shopping, hair cuts and t.v. shows and recycling.
But there’s also the let down of ordinariness and a bleak winter (for those of us in Minnesota at least) stretching out interminably and we’re thinking it would be kind of nice if there was one more gift to unwrap that was forgotten in the rush.
So I’ve been listening to Christmas music. In January. I’ve left my Pandora Classic Christmas music station on, and it’s been like with all the noise of other Christmassy stuff muted til next November, God’s voice has a chance with me.
You’d think I’d be sick of it. But instead it’s like I’m hearing the words for the first time. Not “Santa Baby”, and “Yes this is Christmas”, but you know, the real Christmas words.
Kind of like trading a loud noisy restaurant that you love where you have to shout to be heard across the table for a quieter more intimate candlelit bistro that may not have the same energy, but also isn’t crazy-making and you can be more present to your friend…not as distracted by the single who is flirting at the table right next to you, or the ones who are gossiping loudly, or the couple fighting within earshot.
And so I can hear a little better from God. Words like “mild he lays His glory by, born that man no more may die” and “the wonder of His love…” and “repeat the sounding joy…”
The music of love wafts beyond the manger. Out of December and into January. The miracle of God with us, not left in Bethlehem. Not just for shepherds on a starry night.
It seems that God is trying to bring His Christmas melody of mercy into the muck of my January stable.
And the other day, this is what it sounded like.
I went to Saturday night worship. The one that a lot of people go to because they’re lonely or don’t feel like they “look right” for the morning services. My friend said she likes to come to church on Saturday night because it’s dark outside and I think she likes the feel of coming into the light and warmth. Like the light of Jesus breaking into our dark world.
I’m not making this up. We did a survey and that’s what they said.
I slid in late next to a friend who I hadn’t seen in months. An amazing woman my age (read “young”), whose husband died of cancer about two years ago, leaving her with three sons who are just moving out of the college phase into “real life”…Leaving her also a four-bedroom house with a mortgage and loads of Christmases and anniversaries ahead without him.
I scooted into the pew and joined her singing…
“Higher than the mountains that I face
stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and change
This one thing
Your love never fails, it never gives up, never runs out on me.”
“Ahhh Lord,” I thought as I put my arm around her. “Are you being cruel or timely?”
And what I sensed, not so much immediately, but as I reflected on it, is that this is the next chorus of Christmas. Love comes at Christmas. But He stays. And the refrain is meant to reverberate throughout the year reaching into every corner of our noisy world. We just need to keep listening.