Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Doxology As A Result of God's Victory

This last Saturday the Courier=Times (our local paper in Roxboro, NC) published an article I wrote. I thought I would share it with all of you.

Every Christmas day for the past seven years my family and I will go to the nursing home and read from Luke 2, pray and sing. For many years we would do this at a little nursing home in a town called Hampstead, North Carolina. Every time we go, it is a very meaningful experience, but the most meaningful was a Christmas service four years ago. We gathered together all the people that wanted to come to a Christmas service, carefully asking everyone in the entire facility if they would like to come. We would get all the people that had been abandoned by their families, all the people that had been relegated by the system to spend their last days with strangers, all the people that loved Jesus—but sometimes their bodies would shake, their talking was slurred and their wheel chairs were bulky.
After gathering the troops (as I like to call the process) we began singing the regular Christmas hymns with the residents. Near the end of the singing there were two guys that wheeled in to the service in their chairs. I knew these two and knew that both of them had suffered strokes and could not talk or use certain parts of their bodies. Just then we started singing “Away in the Manger” and the two guys began belting out in their loudest voices, “Waa, waa, waa, waa, waa, waa.” They were singing with all that they had, songs that they known from their childhood. These songs that had influenced them and helped keep their hopes alive through the years. I felt as though God had taken the blinders off and I was able to sing with a great choir of angels, singing praises to God with everything that I was—singing of God's victory—even in a place of despair and abandonment.
I did not want to stop with these gentlemen—these gentlemen who could not use certain limbs of their bodies. They were grinning and patting each other on the back, while I was welling up with tears, continuing on with the song for the second time—and then even on to the third time—saying this line:

“Be near me Lord Jesus I ask thee to stay, close by me forever and love me I pray—Bless all the dear children in thy tender care and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.” (Third Verse of Away in the Manger)

We sing because that is all we know to do. While God makes us fit for heaven—we sing of God's praises. In the place of despair and abandonment God's victory is truly apparent in the voices of stroke victims. Mumbling voices that usher us into the very throne room of God. Where we sing with a great choir of angels—and some of those angels have wheelchairs.

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