And Heaven and Nature Sing…
By John Bonney of Springfield, OR, USA
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing… —Isaiah 35:1–2 NRSV
When I was 19 years old, I directed a choir in Everett, Washington, for the service before Christmas. It was a small ensemble—around 12–14 people. At that age I was spontaneous and sometimes impractical. I decided to do a Christmas cantata with piano, organ, and string quartet.
I took the score, arranging and writing parts for the instruments. The big day came. I had never done anything like it before. I was a second-year music student at community college.
People arrived for the service. The choir members assembled with colds, sniffles, coughs, and laryngitis—I didn’t know how we were going to sing the music. With determination, we moved ahead. As I directed that small, eclectic group of amateur musicians, I had an outstanding experience—and so did the congregation.
As we began singing, I heard many more voices than were in the choir. I heard the efforts of the choir supported by voices we did not expect to be there. It was a startling and inspiring experience which I’ve never forgotten.
Currently, because my voice is often not able, I sometimes do not sing all the stanzas of a song. At Sunday’s service I chose not to sing “What Child Is This” scheduled immediately before the benediction. As the congregation began to sing that song, I suddenly heard many more voices than I had heard previously during that same service. There was solidarity, fervor, a confident hopeful nature singing.
I remembered that experience in Everett years earlier. Only this time, I could put into words of benediction what I wanted to share so the congregation would know the light and gentle-storied hand of creation had just touched them in a moment of blessing. “I am with you always.” May the grace of a moment of worship and the grace of a Christmas season be yours. And surely, may the grace of the spirit of Christmas reach out and touch every creature on this struggling globe.
Prayer for Peace
We do struggle, God, and yet we know you are with us. Thank you for the singing nature of your Spirit which touches us at just the right moments. Thank you for the peace we find at Christmas.
Spiritual Practice: Advent—Love
Reflect on the love of God. How is it that God sent Christ to be “all our loves exceeding”? How do you see God’s love revealed in Christ? How do you reveal God’s love in your own life? Think of ways you can express that love as you prepare for the Son of God—Love’s Pure Light. Thank God for the ultimate gift of love: Jesus Christ.
Today, God, I will be aware of and embrace the blessings of the singing community.
Suggested Hymn: “What Child Is This” CCS 432