I don’t know if you celebrate Christmas, but I want to share a true story that I experienced last night that gave me an extra spirit of hope as I reflect on this season.
On December 6th, after we arrived home from our incredible Southeast Asia tour, I immediately came down with pneumonia. I had a brief stay in the hospital, and it took me two weeks to feel like myself again.
In this way, this season has been different than usual for us. I haven’t decorated, haven’t been able to go to church, and frankly haven’t done a whole lot to prepare my heart for Christmas.
This Christmas our family is having a homecoming in Waukesha at my parents’ house. My sister’s family traveled in from Oklahoma, and we made the drive from Tennessee.
Lesleigh’s family, who also lives in Waukesha, invited us to a special event at their church last night. We were eager to attend and to do something out of the house. They know I enjoy Celtic music, and the evening was an Irish Christmas music service and concert.
It was a beautiful night of music. Acoustic guitar, tin whistles, fiddles, piano, voices, and bagpipes created beautiful, soaring melodies and tight harmonies that filled the vaulted wooden church-space. The lights were dimmed and candles lit… it really felt like I could finally breathe (literally and figuratively) and take it all in.
The last song of the night was a quiet version of two seasonal favorite tunes. As the melody moved from the first part of the song “Silent Night, Holy Night” into “Auld Lang Syne” (the Scottish poem about transitioning with hope into the new year); I looked up at the giant cross in the front of the church.
The design of the building has the cross built right into the eastern wall. The beams that make the shape of the cross are outlined and defined by large windows.
Christ Lutheran Church, Pewaukee, WI
As the melody began, a bright, shooting star darted across the nighttime, winter sky that flew at incredible speed right over the cross and into the east.
In the first Christmas story, the wisemen saw a special star, too, that prepared their hearts for the greatest gift the world has ever known. The birth of Jesus.
I don’t know what the shooting star meant last night, but I saw it. It was real. Lesleigh and her mom saw it, too.
My hope is that as a year of divide, hard news, and unrest comes to a close, that we also focus our hearts on the good things, and on the amazing gift that we are about to receive. He is the only true source of joy and hope in the holiday season, and in every other season of life.
That music and that star remind me to do this, and I hope you will too. Let’s look for the good, look forward to a new year, and live each day like it is our last, and rest our hopes on that Christmas story which is so much bigger and greater than we can even comprehend.