The other night, I sat watching my boys’ choir concert and witnessed something truly beautiful.
It was already shaping up to be one of the most glorious boys choir Christmas concerts, but this particular scene moved me and countless others in the audience.
See, there’s a young man in the choir who has a significant neurological disorder, so in many ways, it’s miraculous that he performs at every concert. At every performance, he stands between two young men who place their hands on his shoulders to help him feel at ease and to prevent him from becoming agitated. Whenever I see their hands move to his shoulders, I’m moved to tears at their tender care for him.
Last night was different, though. Last night, this young man didn’t just sing in the choir – he performed a solo, with one of the most beautiful, clear voices I’d heard in a long time:
“Of the Father’s love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the Source, the Ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.”
And then the entire group of young men joined in, sharing an incredible rendition of that Advent hymn.
What made this beautiful wasn’t just that this boy overcame a physical struggle. It wasn’t even watching my dear friend’s son reach out and offer peace and strength by placing a hand on his shoulder. The remarkable thing was that this entire scene shared the gospel message with the audience in a visible and audible way. The love that was communicated to the soloist strengthened the message of the hymn. It powerfully ministered grace to those of us witnessing Christian community and love on display.
Sometimes Christian community looks different than we think it should, or it’s not what we want it to be. Sometimes our longings are for ideals that we may never witness up close. Sometimes in God’s sovereignty, we’re placed in situations that aren’t what we’d choose or we’re called on to step outside our comfort zones, to reach outside ourselves, and offer strength and hope to the broken and frail around us. The coming of Jesus enables us to do just that.
Jesus took on flesh, entering into our sinful, suffering world. Through him, we are enabled to put on compassionate hearts, living out the gospel. In Christ, we are strengthened to recognize one another’s need and humbly serve, ministering grace, not just with our words, but with our lives.
Because of the Father’s love begotten, we are brought near through Jesus. Because we are in Christ, we are kept by him. Because of Immanuel, God with us, we are being made more and more like Jesus.
In the Advent season and all during Christmas, we are handed an opportunity to remember and reflect on what has been accomplished for us and the deep privilege we carry as followers of Christ. We lay aside every weight and the sins that entangle us – our critical spirits, our discontentment, our pride, our comparison – and we look “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 ESV).
This Christmas, may you have your eyes set on Jesus and through him, be strengthened and filled with love to minister to those he has placed in your life.