The children and youth of Centerville UMC will be gathering at the church after school today to delve into their second to the last rehearsal before the big Children's Christmas program slated to enhance our worship experience on Sunday. Somehow I got elected to do the music portion of the program and have enjoyed learning along with the kids some of the kind of funky, but fun music that goes along with the play they are performing. The musical numbers are sprinkled throughout the program and take about 18 minutes altogether, so the kids and youth will be singing a lot. Thankfully the children and youth enjoy singing (at least they look like they do) so having a lot of music in the program is a joy.
Most people do love to sing - especially this time of year as we haul out our Christmas mp3's and take a break from the hustle and bustle by kicking back and listening to those old and new Christmas favorites. I particularly love Handel's Messiah.....and have some sad feelings about not being able to sing it this year. I think I've sung at least some portion of the Messiah at Christmas for the last 20 years? at Christmas starting in my home church, Clay United Methodist Church in South Bend. Clay is a large United Methodist Church in South Bend with a marvelous music ministry lead by my friend Bob Ham; director of music at Bethel College. Each year, since about 1990 or so, the choir and soloists at Clay Church sing the Christmas portion of the Messiah at their 9:00pm Christmas Eve service. I've also sung The Messiah with Huntington University orchestra, chorus and soloists, Vesper Chorale (a semi-professional chamber chorus in South Bend that I was a member of for 4 years while in South Bend) accompanied by a chamber orchestra made up of members of the South Bend Symphony and these past few years with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra. This year brings a different experience to my plate - a year that I will not participate in a production of the Messiah. Don't get me wrong - I love being in Centerville and serving at Centerville UMC. What a great church with a great love for Jesus Christ! But, there is almost always some kind of loss involved in the changes that life brings and I miss singing the Messiah this year.
What is different in your life this year as you prepare for the coming of Jesus? Are there places of grief still resounding in your heart? Maybe your grief doesn't involve singing, maybe your grief is more about people and relationships - people that have moved on; whether because of life circumstance, broken relationships, or even death? Where are you grieving this season? We feel loss more intensely this time of year, perhaps because of those expectations that tell us everything should be wonderful at Christmas.
Please know that God cares. God cared so much that He would send His Son to earth so that God would know what it fells like to be human and be able to enter into those times of grief and loss in our lives with understanding, love, peace, and hope for a better tomorrow. When the Christmas cheer scene seems to much for you this season, let God in and let God help.
And, it wouldn't hurt to come and see a bunch of kids and youth singing to God's glory this Sunday, so join us at 10:30am at Centerville UMC!