The Path to Christmas 21

I was told it was healthy in grief that, while honoring traditions of the past, to begin making new traditions. Already I am on that path of “recreating” some Christmas traditions for this season of my life.

Last week, our family celebrated Christmas together… in Alabama. We had Christmas… and not on Christmas Day. It was the day that worked with my children’s schedules. I took it gladly. Allison’s home was beautifully decorated, capturing much of her mother’s “flair” for Christmas. It reminded me of many Christmas’ past, when our home was lit brightly and decorated thoroughly (translated: every corner and every surface). And yet, it was new. Different.

Last week, I attended a concert I had intended to experience for years. I would promise myself, “This year, I’m going to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert.” Now for those of you who are novices, you hear their music and maybe don’t know who it is. Their songs are tuned to many, computerized, neighborhood, Christmas light displays.

The TSO is made up of heavy-metal rockers with long hair… throwbacks to the 80’s. Old school, loud, thunderous, immersive rock. But… new. The music they play does not extol the glory of drugs or an illicit lifestyle, but of something more significant: They play Christmas carols and classical music reset in rock.

Now some would think such an event would put them to sleep. Let me assure you, by the end of their concert, you are just holding on to your seat hoping to survive! It is full-on, in your face, heavy metal Christmas carols set to the most incredible display of lighting, sound, video, pyrotechnics and showmanship that would make even the most spectacular Broadway show seem pedestrian.

But the show was not all digital lights and smoke machines. They sang Christmas songs and explored the meaning of Christmas. In one intense moment, the stage was cleared and the flashing lights dimmed and a lone vocalist stood on the stage. And she sang, “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

When she hit the chorus, no explosions happened. No lights brightened. The music all but disappeared, and her lone voice filled the arena. “O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.” And the raucous crowd, thousands in the full arena, went pin-drop silent.

God showed up. In the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. By no means was this a church service… and yet as I looked into the faces I could see around me, I could only say that in that moment, worship happened.

Awe, hushed reverence; some muffled voices singing along, some mouthing the words they knew. Others I believe were just stunned by the moment. In that place, the very Christ we had been singing about was suddenly being sung TO… and He came to receive the praise.

Something of Christmas came for me in that moment. In a building surrounded by people, who I am sure, were mostly not Christ followers. But it reminded me again that Jesus doesn’t need a church building for worship to take place…

…just an open heart.

Different this year… but the same.

“For we have… come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:2

Father of Glory, Lord of Heaven and Earth, we worship You alone. All of creation, and every nation, tribe and tongue should give You worship. May we not fail to offer it when we can. The stones will cry out if we don’t. And especially now, in this important season, may our praise echo into Heaven itself. O come, let us adore Him… Christ, the Lord. Amen.