It all started a few days before our church’s annual Christmas cantata when a good friend shared a humorous post on my Facebook timeline poking fun at altos. The post was just a short video of a woman singing the alto part all by herself. It wasn’t pretty, but not because she couldn’t sing. The problem—-the melody was missing. A melody can stand alone and create a simple song, but harmony alone is just not appealing to the ear. However, if you add harmony to the melody, a stronger and more beautiful sound is created. The song is made complete. The friend that shared the video with me summed it up well in the commentary that followed that post. She said, “Without an alto it’s just a melody. How boring.”
Earlier this month I spent a large part of one weekend at my church singing alto in the annual Christmas cantata. We performed it once on Saturday and twice on Sunday. In the midst of it all, God delivered a very timely and special message through my current reading plan in YouVersion. It’s called “The Magic of Christmas” and that Sunday’s devotion was written by Cory Draper. He says, “A melody is what gives a song its body. A harmony is what gives that body a soul.” When I read those words, I had to pause a moment and let them sink in.
Think of each of us as individual songs, a collection of notes strung together one after another. We were created by God, but without Jesus we are incomplete. Sin entered this world when Eve bit into the forbidden fruit and has run rampant ever since. Sin separates us from God. Because of His unparalleled love for us, God the Father put His redemption plan in motion by sending God the Son, Jesus, to earth. Through Jesus’ birth, sacrifice, and resurrection, we are brought into harmony with God. This (re)union of notes makes for a more full and beautiful sound. Our songs are made complete through faith in Jesus Christ.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room….
Are you singing it yet?
May Jesus bring joy to your world as you make room to receive Him in your heart this Christmas!
(adapted from my Christmas letter)
Facebook reminded me just yesterday that I had written a post about Mary on December 7, 2013. Hmmm…could it have anything to do with this time of year? I think it just might! I bring her story to you again, but with a little different perspective in 2017.
Just a little background information for anyone not familiar with the story—Jesus came to see Mary and Martha at their house. It was a big deal! Martha got all caught up in the preparations—cooking, cleaning, etc., only to find her sister Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus taking in His every word. Martha was a little miffed with Mary’s lack of help and brought it to Jesus’ attention…
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”” Luke 10:41-42 NIV
Are you more like Mary or Martha? Chime in by leaving a comment below if you don’t mind. I would estimate that I’m about 90% Martha and 10% Mary. That’s not something for which I’m proud. My imbalance tends to rear its ugly head most in December. I am a taskmaster. Though I generally don’t have a written “to do” list, I can assure you that when my feet hit the ground in the morning, I have a pretty good idea of what I hope to accomplish that day. It brings me great pleasure to check things off, even if only in my head! The combination of introvert and taskmaster only magnifies the Martha in me.
It takes a concerted effort on my part to turn off Martha and reach for my inner Mary. There have been countless times that I have gotten caught up in my own agenda and failed to do what was better all because I was more concerned about checking something off my list. Those times I actually get it right tend to stand out. There were three such occasions in the past week and God blessed me incredibly for choosing people over tasks. I came away with a joy-filled heart that energized me to complete my tasks!!
When questioned by a Pharisee about the greatest commandment—-
“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39 NLT
It seems loving others trumps getting things done. Does that verse cause you to take a closer look at your priorities? It does me. There are plenty of things to do that are good, important, and even necessary. In fact, completing many of those tasks is a demonstration of love for those God has put before us. Let’s not be too hard on Martha. Her preparations were an expression of love for Jesus too. BUT, Jesus says Mary chose what was better.
Let’s commit to filtering our “to do” lists through the great commandment so that loving others well is a recurring theme. May we each follow Mary’s example and choose that which is better.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go and revise my list….
I’m a slow learner when it comes to “text speak”—it’s hard to keep all those acronyms straight! I learned a new one from my daughter while standing in line for the tallest rollercoaster at Hersheypark recently: YOLO—You Only Live Once! I had a choice to make—I could shake things up a bit (literally), stay in line, and experience the thrill that was intended or I could play it safe, as I often do, get out of line, and miss out. Though my sweaty palms had me second-guessing my choice, the decision had already been made before we stepped foot into the park that day. As my daughter’s riding buddy, I had vowed to ride whatever she wanted…ONCE anyhow! Why?? Because You Only Live Once. Though I had made my decision before being introduced to this acronym, YOLO was essentially what drove me to venture beyond the safety of my comfort zone.
There are quite a few life experiences that have led me to this place, one of which was standing in line next to me that day at Hersheypark. I tend to get very reflective this time of year as my daughter celebrates her birthday. She faced an uphill battle from the time she was diagnosed with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia in the womb and that battle continues to this day. Roughly 50% don’t survive it, but here we are, riding rollercoasters at Hersheypark 21 years later. Though I’m still a planner by nature and relish those times when my ducks are in a row, the truth is, life is unpredictable…and precious. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for any of us, so don’t miss out on the opportunities that present themselves today.
Jesus went to great lengths to give us life—the greatest, in fact. He gave His very own life to save us from our sins and restore us to a right relationship with the Father. Out of love and compassion, He did that for you and for me. Jesus went to the cross and paid the penalty for our sins so we could have life—not just ordinary life, but abundant life.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so they can have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way.”
John 10:10 NIRV
May we be as passionate about living life as Jesus was about giving it!
Thanking God for the lessons I’ve learned through and from my precious daughter. Happy 21st Birthday, Hillary Jayne!