In a year of disruption, one true promise
I think the early church got it right in settling on Dec. 25 as Christmas, borrowing an idea from the pagans to mark the slow but steady lengthening of days after the winter solstice.
It gives us hope. Months of winter – in these parts sometimes not so bad, sometimes cold, gray and lingering – still lie ahead, but warmer, better days will come.
Our church music director, like many others, has done an amazing job of corralling people to sing the weekly anthem on their own and then using some sort of magical software that blends all this into a good sound – a full enough choir. And there it is on Sunday morning, slipped seamlessly into the YouTube service.
I must confess that with all of the stresses and strains of this challenging year – the isolation, the disruption of work, the layoffs and furloughs, the having to rethink and re-engineer every last function of daily life – the consistently most stressful moment of my week tends to be the same one.
It’s the nerve-wracking moment in front of the camera – my iPhone, that is – to record that anthem. Is the background right? No. Move the tripod. Then move it some more. Is the lighting right? No. Adjust the ring light. Remember to stand up straight and hold the music off to the side, except that my eyes don’t reach that far.
The nagging, accusing questions continue. Is my voice OK? Good grief, no. Who are we kidding? When did my range fall to half an octave? Is that a dog I hear howling? What am I even doing here?
But you do what you can, and you try to worry a little less that it’s not good enough. Just keep moving, keep adjusting, keep trying. That is what life is. Comfort is a mirage, and we do well to recognize tiny problems for what they are.
I used to love listening to KXTR play those classic sacred Christmas songs on Christmas Eve as we drove to and from church. KXTR is long gone, and this year church is different. But another classical music station – non-profit, about the only model that seems to work these days – has come along. We’ll see how they do on Christmas Eve, but so far they’ve been pretty good. Things change, and we keep moving.
And worship, come what may, will happen. The light will shine in the darkness, and the darkness shall not overcome it. We are promised little, and entitled to less than we think. But that is one promise we can trust. And we can live in hope as we enjoy the lengthening days.
Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @FoxEJC.