Last week I went to one of Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb concerts in a city nearby ours. I love Peterson and especially his Behold the Lamb Christmas Cd where he retells the Christmas story though the Bible. I finished my workout, had a bit of food, showered and dressed and we met friends to hear his music. I didn’t exactly feel prepared.
I didn’t feel prepared. Advent is the beginning of the Christian year. It’s the four Sundays before Christmas. It’s about the breaking of grace and hope into our busy dark clueless worlds. One of my jobs as a pastor is to invite people to just that very thing so we don’t rush by this incredible holiday. But I can miss it. I have my mind set on the Christmas Offering, the end of year slide show, the big party we’re throwing, the budgets, the hospital visits I haven’t made, the people I haven’t seen, the gifts I need to buy in the correct sizes. I have my mind immersed in my world, even if my world might partly be about you.
Peterson assembles musicians to help him perform the concert. The first half of the show is those assembled musicians performing their own songs, their own work. So you never know what you’re going to get, but you know it’s going to be good. One of the songs we heard was this one by Thad Cockrell called Rosalyn. Give it a listen.
I sat there weeping in my seat twenty rows back. I couldn’t hold it in.
I was thinking about the woman in front of me whose husband has left her. What is she going to do? With her kids and life? How does she know any love? Does she? Where in the world is God in that?
I was thinking about my friends moving and how stressful and exciting that is. I was thinking about the pain of infertility and how so many I know can’t conceive children. Some adopt. Some don’t. Some lean into the pain. Some run the other way.
I was thinking about dreams that go unfulfilled – a new business, a promotion, a recommendation, a vacation. They may seem small but they chip away at our hope and confidence.
I was thinking about my friends who have lost a son, lost a brother and how his birthday will keep coming every year but he won’t be here. Another birthday, another Christmas, another holiday of loss and mourning.
I was thinking about how many unhappy people I know. Some are lonely in their own homes and in their own beds. There are ongoing arguments and new fights, rifts that don’t feel like they can ever be mended.
I felt sad and burdened and I felt the weight of my own hopelessness too. That I can’t make it. That I can’t generate enough hope for everyone and I can’t myself. So as Thad sang to Rosalyn, he was singing to me there in Yukon in a church pew before the real show. I hadn’t expected it and I’m not sure I wanted it. But he said, “Don’t you know the sun will shine on you again No matter how small the flame Against the darkness Don’t you know the light will win.”
Rosalyn. Doug. Julie. Servens. Church. Against the darkness don’t you know the light will win?
The whole breakthrough of Jesus – as told in Behold the Lamb – is about this very thing. I had signed up and paid to attend that very concert, and I was far more ready to hear it when it was time. But I think I needed Thad to sing to me about Rosalyn because that’s who I am too. It was that Christmas song that struck my heart, the one where God is close and real and speaking and breaking into the darkness with something small yet powerful. And reminding me of new love, answered prayers, the miracle of birth and life, of rest and rejuvenation, of a land of new wine, of a party where all are invited, of a place and day and a time when all is set right and God is there in his love. There is love. There is love. And a little more hope because of that little flame, that light in the darkness that is just enough to keep us going and a picture of so so much more.
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.