Christmas Reflections 2014
Christmas came gently this year through many exquisite moments. Here are just a few of them:
1. Subway Brother
Peter and I were going through a subway turnstile a few days ago.As I went through first, our shared metro card ran out.Peter searched through his wallet.A bedraggled man who had observed us, stepped up to Peter, took out several metro cards from his pocket and said, "Man, I just want to help you.Here."And he swiped one of his cards for Peter to pass through.Peter thanked him and offered to pay, but the man just laughed and said, "No, man, I just want to help."
They looked each other straight in the eyes, shook hands and grabbed each others' shoulders.A hearty thank you from Peter, and they said goodbye.We smiled and said, "Ah, New Yorkers."But what we really felt and acknowledged was "There goes the child of God!"It was a Christmas moment.
2. “Let loving hearts enthrone him”
Two nights later, we were back in the city where we attended my church's annual Christmas Eve event (held this year on Christmas Eve Eve -- the 23rd.) I was so moved by soprano Osceola Davis singing, a cappella, an inspired and favorite folk hymn, If anybody asks you who I am, tell them I'm a child of God.
That song's message just stuck with me.
Mark Swinney, the inspirational speaker, followed up in his talk how we are each the child of God, and we can "enthrone" this fact in our hearts. We enthrone it in our hearts this way: We make it our highest priority to BE the child of God and to SEE the child of God in whomever we meet.
I love, too, that phrase "enthrone in our hearts." It’s reference comes from the Christmas song What Child Is This: “The King of kings salvation brings, Let loving hearts enthrone him”)
3. Singing “O Holy Night”
The next day, as I made my way back into the city, I had the chance to consider that concept once again.I was on my way to help enthrone the wonder of Christmas.
I had the privilege to appear as guest soloist and sing "O Holy Night" in a beautiful candlelight Christmas Eve Service.I sang this "song of songs" with an orchestra of great NYC musicians: woodwinds, strings, percussion and grand piano led by Berklee professor Gates Thomas.This was at a beautiful gothic Unitarian church on Central Park West.
At a time where my focus has been in the studio, I had not expected to perform -- especially on Christmas Eve.But the opportunity to sing this special song, “O Holy Night” with an orchestra, enthroned the spirit of Christmas in my soul.
I felt that spirit of Christmas cherishing and guiding us all throughout the evening.The service ended with the entire congregation finding their way into an enormous circle around the sanctuary where all held candles, lights were dimmed and we all sang Silent Night together.Our “loving hearts enthroned him.”
4. Angel of Christmas
I thought about this as I stepped outside into the quietude of New York City on this Christmas Eve.The rain had stopped, the streets were empty and the air was mild and fresh. Instead of getting on the subway at 72nd Street, I walked on, basking in gratitude and reflection.
As I neared the 59th Street station, a glorious sound came winging up through the tunnel grates. It pulled me right down into the subway where I discovered an Angel of Christmas.She exquisitely serenaded strangers with Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" with beautiful orchestral tracks.As trains roared in and out the station, this woman sang with grace and reverence.
Each time someone dropped a tip into her basket, she sweetly curtseyed in thanks.She told me that she will leave soon for Germany to pursue her career.I was filled with gratitude for this woman – this child of God -- for courageously and humbly sharing her gifts on Christmas Eve.
5. Child of God
As I got on my final train at Penn Station, I realized this:My heart is once more enthroned with the Christ child who brought the recognition that we are each the child of God.
So, if anybody asks you who YOU are, tell them you're the child of God.