I’m a slow starter when it comes to Christmas spirit.
I suspect it’s because, as a type A personality, I’m too busy making lists – this year’s successful Thanksgiving recipes, cookies I want to bake, gifts I need to buy (organized by store), events I need to attend, mailing lists, grocery lists, menus, and eventually, my favorite list – things I want to do to get in the Christmas spirit after I’m done checking things off my other lists.
Some years, Christmas has passed before I realize that I didn’t check one thing off of my favorite list. I was too busy getting ready to be in the Christmas spirit to actually get in the Christmas spirit. This has happened for more Christmases than I care to count. Year after year, I’ve been packing away the unopened Christmas puzzle I wanted to put together with my husband, the still shrink-wrapped board game I buy to play with the kids, the Christmas DVDs and CDs I planned to enjoy on quiet nights with the family. I sigh over the Christmas lights I didn’t get a chance to see, friend’s Christmas parties I didn’t attend, service opportunities I wanted to volunteer for but didn’t, and phone calls I didn’t make to friends and family that I haven’t seen in years. Every year, I vow to do a better job of getting it all done next year.
This morning started off like any other morning. I made my to-do list for the day and looked forward to seeing all the check marks at the end of the day. I have a lot to get done before I take my Christmas break and I’m determined not to have one task hanging over my head during the holiday.
I had a phone conference scheduled with my boss at 9:00am and I was making a list of everything I wanted to talk to him about. At 8:50, I received a phone call from Cathy Harvey. “The student choir is singing in chapel this morning!” she exclaimed. “They’re all wearing crowns and the guys are in robes. You have to come see!” Well, chapel was at 9:00 and my teleconference was at 9:00 so I started telling her of my sincere regrets… and then stopped. I suddenly wanted to go to the student’s performance more than anything.
I ran to my co-workers office and asked her to contact our boss to explain why I was unavailable for the meeting, grabbed the camera, and sprinted to chapel chanting “Wait for me, wait for me, wait for me...” under my breath.
And I’m so glad I went.
Upon entering Chapel, I was greeted with laughter, cheers and a few groans of, “Oh no, she brought the camera.” I looked around and saw students dressed in suits, in dresses, in Christmas clothing. On the stage, the choir was nervous and trying to cover their faces with their song books.
The men in the choir were dressed in robes and crowns and the women were all wearing tiaras. I asked Steve and Sandy, the faithful volunteers who practice with the students every Wednesday, about the headgear and they smiled, “The students decided that on their own. The guys wanted to wear crowns and knew Mrs. Cyr had robes, so they arranged to borrow them. The girls wanted to look like royalty too so we picked up some tiaras at Party City.”
For the next half hour, I had the pleasure of listening to our students sing, and photographing their special moments in the spotlight. Their earnest voices dipped and rose to Steve’s conducting. Sandy alternated between playing the keyboard and manning the stereo equipment.
The students sang ‘Go Tell it on the Mountain,’ ‘We Three Kings,’ ’Oh Come All Ye Faithful,’ ‘Come On, Ring Those Bells,’ ‘Amen,’ and ‘Star of Bethlehem.’
It was beautiful. Not because every note was in tune – they weren’t. Not because the production went off without a hitch – it didn’t. Not because every choir member was classically trained and professionally dressed – they weren’t.
It was beautiful because smiles were bright with excitement, and the eyes of the singers sparkled as cheerfully as their tiaras.
It was beautiful because no one felt the need to camouflage the students singing with canned, professional voices singing along. The choir owned every nuance of each song.
It was beautiful because the students love Steve and Sandy, and Steve and Sandy love the students. It showed.
It was beautiful because it was in the hearts of the students singing to bring joy to everyone listening. It was in the hearts of the people listening to encourage the students singing. It was in the hearts of Steve and Sandy to please the Lord with their service to our people with intellectual disabilities.
And it was beautiful because finally my heart was right. I put aside my busyness, and for a half hour thought only about celebrating the joy of my Savior’s birth – in the place I was at and at the moment the celebration was occurring. I didn’t try to squeeze “Attend student chapel to hear choir” on my to-do list. I went because that was what the Spirit called me to do.
I wish you all spontaneous moments of Christmas joy as you celebrate the love of God through the birth of our King.
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