I am unsure as to the reason, but I seem to be “waxing nostalgic” this Christmas season. Perhaps I am getting older, or perhaps God is trying to say something to me, but my mind has been flooded this week with thoughts and images of Christmas celebrations in the past. I remember vividly the Christmas when my Dad made sure that some young boys in our church received Pittsburgh Steelers jackets for Christmas, knowing that their family could not afford such a luxury. I fondly remember Christmas Eve celebrations at my Grandmother’s house with more cousins than I could count. So many, many concerts during Christmas, both at school and at church. I have smiled at the memories of my young children at Christmas, their excitement at gifts, lights, sights and sounds. So many very good and happy memories.
Christmas present is a bit different. This year, in particular, I have felt a profound sense of loss. My family looks much different than in my children’s young years. Christmas as a single person is much different than as a married couple. My children are young adults now, and although they will be home for Christmas, the celebration doesn’t have quite as much excitement as it did when they were younger. There are no longer celebrations at my Grandmother’s house. Aunts and uncles have passed away through the years and I have especially felt the loss of my Aunt Mildred during this holiday.
Last night, though, as KCS was singing the strains of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, I went back to that moment in June of this year when I stood in the spot where “Messiah” was first performed in Dublin, Ireland in April of 1742. For centuries, musicians have been heralding the birth of Christ and his resurrection by singing this familiar work. Many composers have tried to capture the essence of Christmas in music and text, but few have done it in a way that has stood the test of time like Handel’s Messiah. The central message of that music work is that Jesus came to earth, he gave his life as the Savior of the world and he will return again someday.
Christmas Past may be filled with fond memories of those who are no longer here. Christmas present may look different than what I once envisioned and Christmas Future is yet to be determined. One thing, though, is profoundly clear, the miracle and message of Christmas never changes. Joy to the World! The Lord is come! Hallelujah!!