I’m jealous of musicians. OK, I’m not actually jealous enough to put in the study and practice necessary to become one myself, but I’m most definitely jealous. You see, when I have gone as far as I can with my words—when I am struck dumb in the presence of the mystery that is life or love or God or us or whatever—the musician shoves me aside and says, “I’ve got it from here.” And, sure enough, with a few notes artfully arranged, with voices or instruments wondrously harmonized or even discordantly clashing, the musician carries us higher—or is it deeper?—into that place of truth and emotion, wonder or praise, that a few moments before seemed beyond our reach.
That just doesn’t seem fair somehow.
So, I’m jealous, but I have to admit I’m thankful, too. We preachers feel this need to explain stuff—shoot, everything—but when it comes to the glories of the Gospel, sometimes it isn’t explanation we need. Take, for instance, this season of Advent. The one who comes to us makes all things new. The one who comes to us bears the very being of God. The one who comes to us comes with a power unlike anything we have seen before. The one who comes to us speaks a word of grace to our souls and calls us to follow him into God’s realm right here, right now, in the midst of the mess of our world. And when we follow him into that realm, we become that realm in the world. Do you really want me to explain all that, or would you prefer to experience it?
And so, music.
This Sunday (appropriately, the day when we light the candle that reminds us of the joy to be found in this season), our musicians—singers, orchestra, children, adults—will guide us into the beauty, glory and mystery of the season. Our Service of Nine Lessons and Carols combines the great story of our relationship with God—from Garden to Stable—with songs that speak God’s truth to our souls. You and I will even join in a couple of carols.
So, come and be still and receive the one who is born to us, the one borne to us on this day on notes artfully arranged. Come and listen; come and be; come and discover the simple, wondrous, living story of our salvation. I promise I won’t try to explain a note of it.