A Little Something for Christmas

Elaine, Cadence, Ayden, Kevin, Carly, Christmas 2008
Sunday night our church offered a Christmas concert following the 5 p.m. service. We invited our children, grandchildren, and my co-grandma Judi to join us. Everyone declined–not a stunning result, as all the invited households are at least an hour away.
Since our campus is large and rain was pouring, we drove from the Worship Center to the Refinery, the church youth building where the musicians–several different Christian acts–would play. The parking lot closest to the Refinery was full, so we stashed the car at the next-closest lot and trudged through the rain to the small theater inside.
It was packed. People milled around looking for empty seats. Rain makes my arthritic bones unhappy, and I knew standing through the concert would not be pleasant.

Rich and I stood at the end of an aisle of seats, scanning for an opening. After a few moments the man seated in the row next to us said, “Would you like to sit down? There are two seats here, they’re just not together.”
He reorganized his party and the two women seated closest to them. Rich thanked him.

Now we had two seats together. I relaxed a little, gave thanks that we didn’t have 15 family members in tow, and settled in.

I need to explain here that for a few months Rich and I have felt led to explore other local churches. We hadn’t shared this possibility with anyone–we’d simply discussed it among ourselves.
I also need to explain here that a few weeks ago my friend Bob Coller sent me a link to a YouTube video of James Taylor performing Go Tell it on the Mountain  along with a note that touched me.
So, after we’d slogged through the rain at this church we’re no longer sure is the best choice for us and narrowly avoided being part of the standing room only crowd at the concert, I realized that my seat was directly behind a young man who had the proportions of a linebacker. A professional linebacker. I couldn’t see the stage.
I was beginning to wish we’d gone home after the worship service.
The first act to perform, The Natures, took the stage. They’d performed at our church before and their style (they call it “rootsy and organic;” I call it refreshing and uplifting) had lightened my heart. I leaned forward to see if I could peek at the stage over the massive shoulder of the man in front of me.
As I listened, the familiar, but freshly arranged, tune of Go Tell it on the Mountain washed over the audience.
At that moment I understood that I was where I was meant to be. I relaxed into that warm feeling and enjoyed the concert.
Afterwards, we spotted Natalie Watts of The Natures in the lounge outside the theater. I approached her, intending to thank her for the performance. Instead I babbled about uncertainties about our church and Go Tell it on the Mountain and the crowd at the concert and the miraculous appearance of the seats.
She was gracious as she listened, setting aside the conversation she’d been engaged in when we walked up. Then she invited us to visit her church.
And I understood why we were meant to be wedged in at the concert behind that big guy on that cold, rainy night. I felt the Spirit tapping me on the shoulder as she extended the invitation.
We’ll be visiting Natalie’s church next month.
Please enjoy their music.

47 Save us, O LORD our God,
And gather us from among the nations,
To give thanks to Your holy name
And glory in Your praise.
48 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
From everlasting even to everlasting.
And let all the people say, “Amen.”
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 106:47-48 (NASB)