I’ve always known the Christmas story – it’s rooted in my bones. This year, though, it struck me how much I don’t know the story. The words are all known, inside and out. But the longing… the need for a savior… the surreal wonder of every aspect of Christmas, the tiny Baby, the dark, rough stable, the raw mystery of that night… it’s all hitting me for what feels like the first time. Just like I hoped it would.
Christmas is when people wait for a wonder. My mom set up an advent study as a part of our homeschooling, and beforehand, didn’t even really grasp what advent stood for – I remember lighting advent candles every year at our old church, and watching the flames dance throughout the service, but I’m realizing how deep advent actually is.
Music describes it best. Surprisingly, the most meaningful song I’ve found this season was found by accident! The Piano Guys performance of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” on YouTube gives me chills. It’s perfectly soul-aching, if you let yourself dive into it.
It’s a song of deep longing. The music doesn’t even seem to come from the instruments. It comes from the ground, from the rough, ancient stones, from the centuries of waiting, from the thousands of souls who longed for their chains to be broken. There are empty stairs, vacant hallways, shadowy alleys, all of which once held people. People hoping, watching the inky black night sky for a Savior.
Scholars have estimated that several hundred years slipped by between Malachi and Matthew, between the last of the prophecies spoken and the prophecy fulfilled. Centuries of silence and breathless waiting. Centuries.
And after all those years, the Savior crept into a dark world. As a secret. As a mystery. Only a few people knew that He had come.
Every year, my church has a Christmas choir (in which I love participating!), and one man in it is especially talented – he has a beautiful voice. I wish I had a video! This year he sang a solo, “What Kind of King”. It always astonishes me. Every practice I’m struck again and again by the truth and wonder of the lyrics. “What kind of King, with a destiny so grand, would be born to such a simple girl? To offer hope, that carries us past our wildest dreams, I long to know what kind of King?” It’s a mystery I’ll never be able to fully understand or appreciate, but I’m learning to understand it a bit more. I’m waiting and longing, with centuries of Israelites, for the day when our Savior will appear – Christmas Day.