With each new year, I normally take time to highlight the many wonderful ensembles and programs within the Music Ministry.  In doing so, I also acknowledge, with gratitude, all the music offered during the Advent and Christmas season.  The key word here is “normally.”  Well, 2020 was no normal year.  In fact, its devastations continue to affect us all, making planning for future programs and rehearsals nearly impossible.    The key word here is “nearly.”  You see, my faith gives me hope in the nearly impossible … a baby born to a virgin, water turned to wine, walking on water … RESURRECTION!  Yes, these things were certainly not normal, and they were surely seen as impossiblebut with God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.  Can I get an “Amen!”?

   Now that I’ve got your Jesus juices flowing, let’s get practical for a moment. 

Until there is a widely distributed vaccine, reduced community spread of the virus, and/or viable treatments for Covid-19, singing togetherespecially indoorsis a risky venture.  There were times in 2020 when we took the risk, doing our best to be safe in order to provide meaningful moments of music in worship, but for the near future, we will wait with hopeful expectation.  I know what you’re thinking, “that sounds like Advent Talk”yep. Advent is about much more than getting ready for Christmas.  It’s about preparation … and it’s about longing.  We join our voices with the psalmist in saying “How long, O Lord?”

  Last month I quoted a hymn lyric by Fred Pratt Green.  It continues to resonateeven more so today:

   How often, making music, we have found a new dimension in the world of sound …

   When I reflected on these words in December, I was fixated on how music helps us transcend the troubles of the world, and that’s still true.  But, as I consider the text again, the phrase “new dimension” stays with me … it won’t get out of my head!  What new dimensions of sound might we offer in 2021?  How might our worship be strengthened by these?  Perhaps the new dimensions of sound will burst forth when we can finally be together again.  What a glorious day that will be!

   Each January (sometimes in late December), I also try and take a moment to say “Thank You” to the many choir leaders, musicians, singers, and volunteers that enrich our shared ministry.  While 2020 was most certainly the year that wasn’t (chorally speaking), my gratitude remains high.  I am forever grateful for your prayers, your support and your encouragement. 

   When we can, once again, return to music and worship programming, in some ways, it will feel like starting over.  While this might sound daunting, let us be encouraged.  I leave you with another hymn text, this one by Natalie Sleeth.  May it resonate with you this day, and in the days to come.

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
in cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
there’s a dawn in every darkness bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

   May the peace of Christ be with you.