‘Twas the night after Christmas and all through my heart
I could sense the potential of another new start.
After months of preparation, planning, and production, this year’s Christmas music has been presented. Singers sang their hearts out. Instrumentalists counted block rests, remembered tough keys, and played many challenging passages with great accuracy while valiantly faking others. Extra rehearsals were called and attended. Bright costumes for the singers and somber black clothes for the players fit well or did not fit well as the ones wearing them faithfully performed.
Then it was over. Months of preparation melted into minutes of performance.
The time finally came for family. Stores were invaded to be picked over in record time by singers, technicians, players, and conductors who never had time to shop until after the production. Cars were laden with luggage, gifts, and toys to keep the tots busy on the long drive home. Alarm clocks vibrated early so that the early morning flight would not take off without the ticket holders. Christmas meals were prepared and presented with care. After dinner, the wide screen TV faithfully displayed some holiday film or some important athletic contest while the viewers snoozed. Broken conversations lay all around, their fractures untended because the visitors were overcome by American prosperity and by unmeasured shots of sugar in their veins.
These few, unclaimed days are the time for rest, for reflection, and for—whatever is next. Music and worship ministry is a relentless thing. Research has shown that there is a Sunday every week. The glories of last Sunday have well-faded by the dawn of the next Sunday.
Perhaps the greatest opportunity for rest and reflection comes now, the blessed interval between Christmas and the resumption of work after New Year’s Day. With a little rest—it is surprising how little it takes!—we begin to think about the New Year. If we are diligent, this is not a new topic for thought. Dates are on the calendar already. We learned long ago not to let the changing of the seasons take us unawares.
The vocational thinking we do at this one season of the changing years is deeper than calendar dates and administrative details. We actually have time for deep thinking. Where are we now? How did we get here?
Are we headed in the right direction? If not, how can we turn the ship around without losing speed? And, what about our speed? Is it too fast? Too slow? Are we headed anyplace at all or are we running on a tread-mill like that frantic shrimp we saw in that TV report of expensive, important government research in well-equipped labs?
We actually find rest in such deep deliberations. Inexorably like the hands of an old fashioned clock, these reflections turn into resolutions. Conveniently the Christmas rush gives way to the New Year’s resolve. The hope we polished in Christmas reflection shines in bright vows of actions we will take in the New Year.
In this process we declare closure on unpleasant events the old year brought us and deliberately open our hearts to the promise of the New Year. That promise is more than a turning of calendar leaves. It rests upon eternity, not on time. Our lives came from God who is timeless and the creator/master of time. We live, we stand, we minister before Him. Amazingly, God has a stake in our future. He has gifted us with talents which we have been blessed by Him to shape into skills that He can use. He is not done with us. The past is gone, obliterated by grace. The future is approaching, clothed in grace.
So, rest. Read. Listen to great music. Watch funny movies and inspiring films. Lie about in overstuffed temporary indulgence. Look carefully at your family. Look back fondly on those who are not here this holiday season. Look forward with confidence. In bad things, the past is not prophetic. In good things, God is both faithful and full of surprises.
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