Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hymns

Beve and I went to the big city last night where we met some friends for dinner at a lovely noodle house (I love curry, have I ever mentioned that?) then went to SK's Christmas concert.  Up in our little city we have Christmas think we do 'festive' pretty well.  But there were so many lights on the streets of the city (well, the city across the lake from the Emerald City) that when I looked out the window of the restaurant at 6 PM (well after sunset), it was so bright I was sure the sun was shining.  We had a wonderful dinner with our friends, great food and great conversation. At one point Beve asked how I liked my meal but I'd been so busy talking I hadn't taken a bite yet.  It's just possible I like to talk more than I like to eat.  It's also possible that with the current state of my life, I downright starved for conversation with friends.

Then we enjoyed SK's last Christmas concert as part of the Whitworth choirs.  Sigh.  I loved it.  Spectacular music, some pieces some so sublime they made me catch my breath.  There was one small bridge piece at the end that was like an orchestra of strings warming up.  Feathery sounds.  Amazing. 

The congregation always sings a a few pieces with the choirs, and last night, as we sang "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," I thought of my mother. My mother. Life has moved at such a breakneck pace this fall that my thoughts of her have been fleeting.  I'm too caught up in dealing with the living.  Racing from one doctor's appointment to the next.  Handling the daily care for Grampie and Thyrza.  And for J as he slowly recovers from what has to be the most gnarly surgery we've ever had the misfortune of being a part of (poor guy!).  Trying to keep a whole lot of balls in the air when I never even learned to juggle.  Whatever I thought grieving for Mom would be like, I didn't think it would take such a back seat to all these living stresses.

So last night I thought of Mom. Mom loved Christmas, but she also loved hymns.  For years, Mom taught a Bible study at the retirement community where she eventually lived based on hymns.  She'd pick out a hymn, like "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross", research its history (written by Isaac Watts, first published in 1707), then study the scripture contained within the hymn.  Needless to say, Mom knew and loved hymns.  Taught us to know and love them too.  My favorite hymn is "And Can It Be," by Charles Wesley, because it carries such a supreme sense of awe in it that Christ actually died for each of us. Every time I ever sang it as a youth (which wasn't often since I grew up in Christ), I was struck again with the theological implications of what He did--"Died He for me who caused His pain.  For me who Him to death pursued? Amazing Love, how can it be that YOU my God shouldst die for me."  And I feel like weeping this moment to sing it as I write.

Anyway, last night we sang "O Come All Ye Faithful." A Christmas standard, if there ever was one.  I cut my teeth on these carols.  Most of us did.  Know them so well I don't need the words to any of them, unless, unexpectedly, someone throws in a verse we've never heard before.  It happens.  Did last night with this carol.  But by the time a person's had 50+ Christmases, even almost 40 of them as a believer, it's easy to simply sing the words without thinking about them.  We even belt them out because they're like old friends each December. That might be what I was doing last night when the last verse caught me up of "O Come All Ye Faithful" reached up and grabbed me around the throat.  It's Philippians 2 and John 1 all wrapped up in one mighty verse that did it. "Ye Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning, Jesus to Thee be all glory given.  Word of the Father now in flesh appearing. O Come let us adore Him..."

'Yes, Lord, we welcome you. Born this most blessed and glorious moment so that even the day is forever happy.'  So happy, so glorious that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Your name--Jesus Christ is Lord--happy.  And why?  WHY?  Because the very Word of the Father is now a human being.  The visible image of the invisible God, Colossians calls Jesus.  The visible and the audible and the oral WORD of God.  God spoke all creation into being including us.  Then, because our lives depended on it (The very lives He had created), He spoke Himself into becoming one of us as well.  Word of our Father, now in flesh appearing.
Yes, come let us adore Him.

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