12 Dec Lights, Antlers & Letting Loose
This month at Calvary I have been doing a series of Advent sermons entitled Songs of the Season. Each Sunday we’ve been reading and reflecting on the initial reactions of some of the major characters in the story of Jesus’ birth. For example, Zechariah the priest (and soon-to-be father of John the Baptist) responded to his angelic visitation with a song of blessing which we call the Benedictus. When the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary, her response was a hymn of praise, the Magnificat, taken from the first line of her song: “My soul magnifies the Lord.” The angels greeted the news of Jesus’ birth in a Bethlehem stable with shouts of Gloria!
Some news is so good you just can’t take it sitting still. You feel compelled to move, to jump, to shout or sing, to dance, to cheer or laugh. Sounds of joy erupt from deep within. Children intuitively know this, and their freedom in rejoicing over good news is delightful and infectious.
Occasionally adults will “let loose” and allow the child within to celebrate good news unabashedly. That happened on the streets of Washington DC (and in lots and lots of area sports pubs) when the Washington Nationals made their surprising and historic run to their first World Series Championship in October. Stadiums and arenas full of ecstatic fans can provide deafening evidence that we don’t have to outgrow our ability to enjoy a really good party.
But it happens far too seldom in adulthood which is one of the graces the Christmas season offers. Songs that lift the heart, children’s awe and anticipation, bright (even gawdy!) lights and decorations, dropping money in a red kettle while greeting a bell-ringer, smelling the aromas of cookies baked only in December, wearing funny Santa hats, elf ears, or reindeer antlers—there are so many opportunities to experience joy, to smile, to laugh, to greet a stranger or hug a loved one.
Please don’t get so busy, so burdened by tasks that you forget to look someone in the eye every day, to be silly, to say a word of thanks or praise. Remember to count your blessings, to look at the stars one cold, clear night, to reconnect with a friend. Don some fuzzy socks or a Christmas tie. You might want to RACK someone (perform a Random Act of Christmas Kindness).
And, even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket and the shower is the only place fit for your concert, don’t forget to sing. Sing a song of joy for the precious gift of Jesus and the gift of your own dear life, for there is hope, there is joy, there is light, there is love because of this “good news which is given for all the people,” as the angels put it. After witnessing the arrival of the greatest gift this world had ever received, of course they sang! And they invited us to join their song: Gloria! Gloria in excelsis Deo!