Our final choir practice was last night in the church, a last chance to prepare for tonight's breath-taking Midnight Mass. We began and I forgot myself as I sang with the other choir members, these dear friends I’ve made in such a short time, who have welcomed me with kindness into their choir family.
As Ruth sang “Gift of God” with my brother, and the choir gently sang our responses to the verses, I closed my eyes, overwhelmed by the beauty of the music.
I opened them and saw my uncle, the choir director. He lost his seventeen-year-old son, my cousin, in a car accident this summer. Yet there he was, pouring himself out, feeling the music as I was. Finding healing in it. Tears gathered in my eyes as I watched him with compassion and admiration.
And in that moment, I felt the petty details of the week be stripped away. Why had I allowed such clutter to build in my heart and mind this week? Had I been preparing my heart with room for the Savior only to fill it with worries and selfishness just before His coming?
“Word of prophets, word of poets, Holy Word of God made flesh…to a world of pain and suffering, comes the hope of joy renewed.” Kyle’s and Ruth’s beautiful voices echoed through the church.
“Gift of God, O Emmanuel,” We responded to each verse, with reverence and emotion.
The purity and simplicity of Christmas was right there, in those lyrics, those five words.
This indescribable gift of God—that He came down to earth, to be God-with-us—Emmanuel.
The God who is with my uncle and family in their unimaginable grief. The God who is with me in my heartache and confusion. The God who is with each one of us in our fears, frustrations, and uncertainties.
Gift of God. Emmanuel. It’s that simple. And that powerful.
Merry Christmas Eve, dear friends. Tonight is a holy night.