The music, the lights, the hustle and bustle—I love it.
When I was a kid, Christmas was a HUGE deal. Not because of presents—yes, those were always nice and I always wanted a new bike or video game. I loved decorating. Putting up the Christmas tree and lighting it up for the first time was the most magical thing in the world. Putting fake snow on the shelves and cutting out fake snowflakes out of paper was a blast. My grandmother and I would spend hours decorating the house. It was a huge deal.
I remember every year after we put every ornament my grandmother owned on her tree, I laid down by the tree and starred at the lights. The beauty of Christmas was so clear back then. We would go caroling (just my grandmother and I) to all of her neighbors’ houses and I would be in the Christmas play at church that always ended with everyone getting a goodie bag filled with nuts, chocolate, and Christmas trinkets.
The music was a huge part. I would spend hours making songbooks for everyone so we could sing carols together. I would painstakingly write out every word. I would illustrate what was happening in the song on the opposite page. I can see now how big of an influence Christmas was on my life. Obviously, since I’ve decided to stick with music (I’m finishing two Masters Degrees in Clarinet and Music Theory). And Christmas is still a special time for me in that regard.
Worshiping through music is something that I have always participated in. I grew up in Laurel, IA—population 239. The church I grew up in was a small United Methodist Church. If you don’t know, hymns from the Methodists are huge. Charles Wesley (the brother of John) wrote over 6,000 hymns in his lifetime. Many of these you know—for example, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
I used to just close my eyes and listen to the hymns. My head was pressed against my grandmother’s chest, the Smith family would always sing Alto and Tenor, my grandmother and the other widows would sing Soprano, and the Stinemans and Sietmans would always sing Bass. It was like having the heavenly choirs actually singing to you on Christmas Eve bringing in the Christ Child’s birth.
When you sit down in church this Advent season, just close your eyes and listen to the harmony that is created. Not just in the music, but in the universe. I am so grateful for music—another holy gift that all of mankind can share. I mean, there’s a songbook IN THE BIBLE. Music glorifies God.
One last thought—I was chatting with a scientist friend of mine and we were talking about the importance of music (mainly vibration) in nature. He told me that physics shows that when you break down an atom, you get a quark. “But what happens when you break down a quark? Anything?” I asked. He smiled and replied, “When you split a quark you get sound.”
Everything in the universe vibrates.
Think about this for a second.
How did God create the universe? He SPOKE it into being. Vibration, sound, music—it’s all been here from the beginning and just like God said, “It is good.”
Be safe and warm this holiday season and remember that you are loved. Make music. Share stories. Also, enjoy the perfection that entered the world on that holy night 2000 years ago.