Each year of my life as a choral singer, my Christmas season has started in the fall. That’s when the Messiah scores, the lovely anthems, the carol arrangements all come out in rehearsal. Notes are hammered out, rhythms are clarified texts are explored, vowel placement and cutoffs and dynamics and breath support animate a piece of music with the spark that lifts it off the page. For a choral musician this time of year, hours are spent in holy preparation so that the rest of us might experience our holy preparation anew.
As with most things in life, the shaping happens in the unfolding, the rehearsals, the journey, the daily engagement. For together from all seasons of life, all abilities, all levels of vocal expertise, a group of individual singers becomes a choir… and during the season of Advent, that choir becomes those who proclaim good news of great joy!
This Sunday, we’ll hear that good news as our Sanctuary choir and guest orchestra lead us in worship, unfolding the story in song and scripture of God’s arc of redemption and liberation and transformation of the world. In a series of nine lessons and accompanying carols, we’ll experience God’s creation of the first humans, God’s covenant with Abraham and Sarah, the prophecies of Isaiah pointing to one who will pierce the darkness, that shoot springing forth from the stump of Jesse, the angel’s announcement to Mary of the Messiah who will grow in her womb, the birth of Emmanuel in a poor stable around the world, the experience of such news by shepherds and sages whose lives were forever changed, and John’s story of this Word made flesh, full of grace and truth.
That story will be enlivened with songs faithfully prepared and lovingly shared. And as we hear again the old, old story, we’ll see a beautiful image of what good news looks like in practice. Out of many minds, one heart. Out of individual needs and singular yearnings and personal preferences, a unified expression of the gospel. A song and a story that out of darkness, light; out of fear, hope; out of conflict, peace; out of despair, joy; out of indifference, love.
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” David prayed this song of Mary for the choir at the conclusion of rehearsal last night. Hers is a song of preparation — not of notes and rhythms — but of a heart and a life made ready to receive Love made flesh.
May this be our song! And may the holy invitation to join our voices together in joyful proclamation of good news enliven this season and every season!
Together in God’s work of Love,