Coming from a family with a strong foundation in classical music, my wife and mother-in-law attend many of the local musical events throughout the year which our city is fortunate to host. I occasionally will attend a concert or two with them, not being a connoisseur of the same standing as they.
On this particular night, I was a substitute attendee, utilizing a ticket which would have otherwise gone unused. We were attending a Christmas choir program at one of the older traditional Protestant churches, of which there are several in our city.
The program lasted for about 1½ hrs, and consisted of a mixture of aged unfamiliar Latin Christmas hymns, old European hymns, and more traditional Christmas carols, with biblical reading selections interspersed throughout, all together forth telling the Christmas story. During the rendering of the traditional Christmas carols we audience were invited to participate, which we did with not a bit of accompanying élan.
The overall choir, totaling roughly 60 people, consisted of two groups of smaller choirs, which in effect merged into one in the course of the program: The head of the local university music department conducted the group. The setting, the attire, and the program structure were all very traditional.
I found myself watching a sea of faces, faces of participants ranging in age from late teens up into their late 70s. There were vibrant faces, shiny faces, serious and rather dour faces, faces with glimmers of expectancy and faces showing strains from life’s weights, but all had joined together in performance.
I watched fascinated while a series of related thoughts wended through my mind. I wondered what the life was like behind a face as I randomly focused on it. I wondered what might have caused the strain in a face that showed strain. I wondered what kind of personal relationship with Jesus the person behind a face enjoyed. The sea of faces seemed to invite wonder, after all, though I didn’t realize it until later, here was my gathering of a rather odd and curious yet no less glorious assortment of worshippers as those that witnessed and responded to that first Christmas of long ago. I wondered at the collage of life in unison before me.
The program proved both beautiful and moving and as I continued watching I was struck with the realization of how fortunate everyone participating was. Here was Christianity’s essence and legacy displayed before me; just to be a part of this display at whatever level of belief or commitment appeared miracle and wonder enough.
I realized that no matter what the individual make up of the group, no matter what the life behind the face, here was Christ shining through his people. Here was Christmas being born before me. Here was the light of Christianity on display, shining through, and a peace came over me and these simple words seemed to form in my heart and mind, ‘it’s enough.’
I felt lifted with the realization that the light of Christ will never be quenched: It’s an eternal flame. It’s eternal life. No matter how vibrant or feeble, the Spirit and light of Christ is presently with and upon his people and will never go out, and can never be put out. And in times of crisis, in times of difficulty, I believe that light that is the Light of the world will continue to shine forth its radiance in our otherwise dark world, drawing ever more to Him.
“Glory to God in the highest!”