Reflections on the Christmas Season
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
– Psalm 34:8
It’s Saturday after Thanksgiving. With groggy eyes and empty stomachs we pile into the family car and makes our trek over the verdant Santa Cruz Mountains to the foggy California coast. Here we pick out and chop down our Christmas tree. Like every year, my mom packs the family a picnic lunch, my dad complains about the hassle, and my sister and I get carsick. We just want to know what time we’ll be back to see our respective significant others. When we arrive our shoes get stuck in the mud and our coats soak up
the smell of smoke from the roaring camp fire. Then we spend the next 2 hours arguing over which tree is the best one. “This one has more room for ornaments”, my mom cajoles, “This one is perfect!” insists my sister. We all join in on our prideful quest for the honor of finding the family tree. When three of us finally concede, we chop down the winning tree, cart it back home and then my sister and I dash away while my mom and dad take care of actually setting it up. Sounds wonderful? It is.
This year, with my sister studying abroad in Hong Kong, and yours truly at work and school in Boston, our family ritual is no longer. This year, my mom and dad peacefully made the drive without complaint and picked out a tree with little dispute. This year it was up in our home, star-topped and ornamented, before the kids even got home.
When I asked my mom about the tree excursion this year she exclaimed, “it was so much easier!” Which finally made me realize: it is not about the tree of course, but about my family coming together through a common task. Sure we fight about it, sure we get carsick and a little dirty, but would I trade it for a 10-minute trip to the grocery store parking lot? Absolutely not.
And if you haven’t picked up on the allegory yet, it’s like that with our church family. Like any family we can be dysfunctional at times. We fight about things and don’t always get our way, but would I trade it for a homogeneous group that thinks exactly alike? Never. The reason we have and will continue to have disputes over musical styles, preaching styles, church decorations, or any other decision to make is quite simply because we are a family. It’s what families do (and we do it really well!).
I like the term ‘growing pains’. The more I learn about the history of TCC, the more I realize that we have experienced significant growing pains. Our tensions and disagreements are evidence that we are living in a community of diversity. With more and more young families joining our church every week, the more stress is put on our volunteer staff. With more older members returning to our midst, the more we’ll want to sing the songs they know and cherish. With a greater cultural and generational diversity of people attending on any given Sunday, the wider the range of musical tastes to experience and share. It won’t always be what we individually want, but that’s not what it’s about. That’s not what we’re about.
So whether the Christmas season was met with joy and happiness, or turmoil and stress, remember that we can come together as members of one imperfect family, and God our Father is smiling down upon us, patiently perfecting us more and more every day. Alleluia!
When in our music, God is glorified
Words by Fred Pratt Green
© 1972 by Hope Publishing Co.
When in our music God is glorified,
and adoration leaves no room for pride,
it is as though the whole creation cried
How often, making music, we have found
a new dimension in the world of sound,
as worship moved us to a more profound
So has the Church, in liturgy and song,
in faith and love, through centuries of wrong,
borne witness to the truth in every tongue,
And did not Jesus sing a psalm that night
when utmost evil strove against the Light?
Then let us sing, for whom he won the fight,
Let every instrument be tuned for praise!
Let all rejoice who have a voice to raise!
And may God give us faith to sing always