There’s something very magical about Christmas for many people. The reasons vary, from sensing something special in the air to falling snow against the backdrop of a lit night sky to Christmas lights and nostalgic music to the anticipation over giving and receiving presents. The list goes on.
The children’s Christmas concert I attended the other night was filled with Christmas magic. The children varied in size and age and musical ability, as they played their instruments and sang. What was most magical to me was the sense of normalcy as parents, siblings and friends watched with pride and joy, snapping pictures and videotaping their kids as they performed. After the past several days bombarded with gun shots and news reports of tragedy, the room filled with regular people and nostalgic Christmas music played by aspiring amateur musicians was magical.
There was nothing amateur about the conductor, though. He is a professional musician in every way—how he carries himself, his dramatic flair, and skill in conducting and accompanying his young apprentices with instruments. By looking at his face and gestures, one would never know if his music students had made a mistake. He praised them appropriately and led everyone in the celebration of the festivities.
Taking it all in took me back in time to reflect upon what that first Christmas must have been like. Bethlehem was by no means Jerusalem. It was a normal little town, I suppose. The divine conductor chose the town of the shepherd boy David for the birthplace of the Messiah (Matthew 2:6). The heavenly choir performed—not for royalty in music halls, but for shepherds watching their flocks in the fields by night (Luke 2:8). Amateurs performed in the Christmas pageant as well. Just think of Mary and Joseph; as great as their faith was, they were very average people by most accounts (Luke 1:39-56; 2:4-7). Then there were the aged Anna and Simeon (Luke 2:25-38). The foreign dignitary wise men would make their appearance later (Matthew 2:1-12).
God was with us—even us—Immanuel (Matthew 1:23). The uncommon God sees fit to live among an all-too-common people. There is something magical about all this to me. Something so supra-normal cloaked in normalcy. So often, the kingdom of God appears to us in this fashion. The divine conductor makes it possible for all of us to play a part. Of course, there is the pursuit of excellence, but there is also the place for everyone to make a joyful noise to the Lord.
I hope and pray that we can bring a bit of this Christmas magic into the coming year and make space for everyone to play their parts to their hearts’ content and to the best of their abilities. Not writing them off or making them exit center stage, but making room for them in our hearts, even today.