Our family had a great time this past week at our annual mission retreat. It was a
fun time of swimming, shopping, eating and fellowship. Every morning and
evening, we would gather for hymn singing and worship, but most of every day
was spent in the pool. It’s a rare treat to go swimming here, and we wanted to
enjoy every minute of it.
On our last evening, we gathered after dinner to sing some Christmas carols. I
dragged myself out of the pool to play guitar accompaniement, and sat shivering and dripping in the middle of the conference hall with my parents. We tuned up our instruments, and soon had the room echoing with praise. I tried to keep a steady rhythm as my mom caught up the melody in her violin and my dad decorated it with complicated picking from his guitar. The music soared through the room, sending shivers down my back.
Partway through our caroling, a woman walked in with her two children. One of the pastors pulled up some chairs for her and she joined in our singing. I personally think the singing got significantly louder at that point, for we realized that the others at the hotel could hear us.
It was then that I realized how much Christmas really means. No matter where you are, people can lay down their weapons and rejoice together. Everyone can identify with the sound of Christmas carols and the joy associated with them. It’s not a season of gifts and tinsel. It’s a season of love.
Sitting there in that conference room, listening to the shivering echoes as the joyful carols reverberated through the room, I was struck by the awesome mercy of our Father. John 3:16 rang through my head as if someone was sitting next to me shouting it in my ear.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son
That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish
But have everlasting life.”
Rejoice, rejoice. Emmanuel has come to thee, O Israel.