Here's part of a letter that I shared with the church I pastor reflecting on our recent Caroling activity.
From Luke 2 (NLT)
From Luke 2 (NLT)
21 Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.
22 Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. 23 The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.”[a] 24 So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”[b]
36 Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. 37 Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four.[c] She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. 38 She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. . . . And his mother stored all these things in her heart.
I’ve been thinking about this scene from Luke’s gospel after the events from Sunday. In the morning we heard about the angels and how they worshipped and ministered to Jesus, and then announced His presence among the people of the world. We picked up their songs of joy in worship and many from our midst offered gifts of song, music and art to the Lord. Since then many have given voice to the presence of the Holy Spirit in a palatable way.
In the evening about 18 of us went caroling, we went to take the song of the angels to people in our community. Those we went to were like Anna, widows who were well along in years. As we sang, those we sang to joined in singing, their faces were bright and in at least one instant, tears came forth. The tears reflected joy in being remembered, joy in having visitors, joy in Emmanuel – God with us.
As the night unfolded we singers were beginning to catch a glimpse of the significance of our task. We were doing something more than fulfilling an age old tradition, like Joseph and Mary when they kept the law by going to the temple on the 8th day. We were bearing witness to the Love of God for the world and for people in particular, people who are often overlooked and bypassed.
As we took joy we received it in return. Our hearts burned like Mary’s, as we considered how a little singing and a little visit could be appreciated so much. Our hearts pondered the mystery of grace; of giving, of receiving, of the power of singing Christmas carols. The teaching of the church about the trinity would tell us that we were taking part of the great dance of holy love that exists between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, where each gives freely and receives with much rejoicing. It’s hard for many of us to comprehend the Holy Trinity in our minds, or explain it with words, but experiencing it we can say there it is. As we sang, we knew we were giving; as our listeners clapped and sang and cried, we were receiving, and in our hearts we have much to ponder and rejoice over. We were singing in houses and apartments – but with the Love and Joy of the Lord – these places had the air of being some of the world’s greatest cathedrals.
As you celebrate the birth of Jesus with your family, friends and neighbors, be encouraged to reach out to someone close to you who may feel bypassed and share the joy of the Christ child. May your gift bring joy and love. May your homes and gathering places become some of the greatest cathedrals of the world. And above all, may you find that in giving and receiving Emmanuel – God with us – is with you, and your very life is taken into the Holy mystery of the Holy Trinity. This is the reason for the season, God with us, and us with God.