A week or so ago I was fortunate enough to spend an entire school day subbing in a middle school classroom, a great portion of which was spent on crowd control during choir practice. Choir practice in December means Christmas carols! Friends, it was magical, and it probably had a lot to do with my heart slipping so deliciously into the Christmas Spirit.
These happy little twelve and thirteen year old kids, wrapped in their sparkly infinity scarves and bouncing around in their fleece lined boots and football jerseys, pretending to feel much older than their innocent faces confessed, just sang their hearts out! I listened and smiled big and had a hard time suppressing happy giggles. Without children in our farmhouse these past few Christmases, I had almost forgotten about this fun wintertime ritual. (Almost.)
The final song the choir practiced was Hashivenu, a haunting, lilting traditional Israeli folk song based on the Old Testament scripture Lamentations 5:21. In the midst of cheerful modern songs like Santa Baby and Up On the Rooftop, this particular song, no…this hymn… brought tears right to the front of my eyes and tightened up my substitute teacher throat. It was so… yearning. Sad and hopeful. Trusting.
It bored through all the indulgent tinsel and fluff of the season and addressed the quiet center of Advent. The Coming. But it focuses on us returning to Him, not just Him arriving on our doorstep. I feel a beautiful distinction here; do you?
Beyond the pretty remarkable fact that such a religious song was being rehearsed at a public school, I was struck by the raw emotion of approaching God. Of asking for His help in returning home.
I am resisting the urge to over analyze this; it is just so beautiful on its own. Today when I read the scripture and recall the sound of fifty middle schoolers singing the mellow hymn, I can easily imagine God holding my chin and turning it gently to face Him.
Renew our days as of old. No new ideas or plans. No grander adventures than what a joyful, loving life offers with His guidance and protection. Instead, a return. A homecoming and a safe restoration. We all need it, don’t we?
What Christmas songs are inspiring you this year? What speaks to your heart? Why? I would love to know. Music is so powerful, so connected to our emotions.
I wish you a safe, fulfilling, inspiring Advent season. I wish you a genuine return Home. For me, this feeling is making my December flat out amazing.