In the book All I really Want, by Quinn Caldwell, his devotion for the evening of December 15 has stayed with me. I have pondered his words and meditated upon them and wondered how they might be made real this year, this Christmas. I quote in part from pages 72-73
“There are something like 5400 animal species that make complex, intentional, repeatable, musical vocalizations. Which is to say that there are about 5,400 animal species that sing. The majority live in the trees, a few live in the oceans and very few live underground, but there is one–only one–singing species that lives on the ground. You guessed it: us.
Humans are also the only singing species with. Precise and shared sense of rhythm, which is what allows us to sing together…if a roomful of people sings at the same time, they start to breathe at the same time as well. And not only that, but studies have so shown that when people sing together, their hearts start beating together, too…Most other animals stop singing when danger approaches. But humans, at least humans in Advent, sing louder the closer the danger gets.”
I don’t if it is exactly true that we as humans sing louder as danger gets closer, but I do know that we as humans sing when we are sad, when we are joyful, when we are grieving and when we are feasting, when we are afraid and when we feel hope drawing near. Singing brings us together as a community, as a family and as a people who know death, despair and evil and stand and sing in the face of it all.
On Christmas eve, I will gather, as I have done for most of my life, to sing the songs that proclaim the goodness of God in the face of all that is dark and evil and unjust. As people have done for hundreds of years, I will hold a candle in the darkness and proclaim that the Light has come into the world and the darkness shall not and will not overcome it.
As individuals, we may not always be strong enough or hopeful enough or faithful enough to proclaim that love overcomes hate, that good overcomes evil, that light overcomes darkness and that God will redeem God’s creation. Our voices, my voice, can tremble, can soften and even be silenced by my a sense of despair or grief or lack of vision. Together, however, we can sing songs of love and of light and of justice and of hope. Our voices, combined, can bring strength and power and faith to a world that needs it so much.
As I prepare to move into the twelve days of Christmas, I pray you might join your voice with others and sing songs of hope, songs of joy, songs of love and songs of faith. Through the power of all of us singing together, hearts beating together, may we make music that is loud enough to be heard in the places of deepest despair. We need Emmanuel God-with-us as much today as 2000 years ago. Come Emmanuel, come filled our hearts with your peace and our voices with your love and hope!