Wednesday, December 21, 2011

There's a Song in the Air

And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing

For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a king….

    Who are the beautiful that sing around the manger in Bethlehem? I have heard some of them this Advent season. This morning, we attended services at the church on the farthest edge of our charge. In fact it is across the state line about three miles. The children of that little white church in the wildwood recited poetry, rang bells and re-enacted the Christmas story from Luke. They were cute and silly and charming and brought tears of laughter and joy to more than one person in the congregation. My favorite child was three year old Sydney. She wore white tights, black patent leather shoes and a green velvet dress and she was in charge of a little orange bell, but she never rang it on cue. She became so engrossed in the music of her fellow bell-ringers that she leaned over, placed her elbows on the table and rested her chin in her upturned bell. “Hark the Herald Angels” rollicked merrily along until it was time for the littlest bell. There was a four count silence while Sydney looked out at the congregation and grinned. Finally, her brother elbowed her, she straightened up, removed her chin from the bell and waved it vigorously over her head. The congregation’s response was so encouraging, that she repeated this performance throughout the remainder of the song.
     After the children’s service, the charge choir presented a cantata. The music was challenging and I never thought we would master it, but on Sunday morning we filed into the narrow pews up front and began our assault on the difficult piece. Somehow that assault turned into grace. Our choir director who had suffered and worried through our disastrous practices grinned through the whole piece. We could see in her joyous smile that somehow we had managed to pull it off.
     As we sat down, I was suddenly aware of all the humans across the nation worshipping the same way. On the edge of the Pacific, childish shepherds and kings were walking solemnly up the aisles as the story from Luke was read. In the midwest, bell-ringers were throwing joyous notes up to the heavens. On the east coast choirs were sending alleluias out to the nation. This Advent we were the beautiful singing while the star rained its fire. We were the choir of a king.

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