Years ago at church, our pastor showed a video during his sermon that a simple 8-note scale contained the best news in the world. That image has stuck with me, a piano-dropout myself from years ago. The narrator ignores his mother’s gentle attempt to bring him into the world of piano, and like every piano dropout in the world, he lives to regret that choice and wishes he had listened to his mother. (Don’t we all?) Her message comes through loud and clear at the end of the short, three minute video. You can view the video, called “The Christmas Scale,” here.
A few years ago, my daughter and I broke new theatrical ground when we joined our church’s production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a hysterical play with an opportunity for the audience to see the wonder of Christmas through the eyes of an unruly bunch of children who have never heard the Christmas story from the Bible. I played the role of Grace, a mother who directs the Christmas-pageant-within-the-play, which should have been an easy job except that the Herdmans, a family of six wild, crazy kids, show up and take the main roles of the pageant… Chaos and hilarity ensue.
My daughter Sarah, an angel in her own right, was one of the baby angels in the play. She was herded on and off the stage by bigger kids and her little choir sang the first verse of several familiar Christmas hymns at the play-within-the-play. We practiced in the car, and she decided she didn’t want any help with the words. And then came “Joy to the World.”
She sang clearly and beautifully in the back seat of my SUV:
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come. In every… single… thing!“
I’m embarrassed to admit my first reaction was to correct her. “Baby, it’s ‘Let earth receive her King.'” But the more I thought about it, the more I loved Sarah’s version, made all the better by her blue-eyed, blonde-headed innocence. I think Sarah is right. Baby Jesus is in every… single… thing.
For many people, Christmas isn’t the most wonderful time of the year. Many are reminded of loss, pain, and empty seats at the table. Many are stressed by the busyness that inevitably crowds our December calendars or the sheer lunacy of shopping and holiday traffic. Many look at the state of the world and see more bad things than good.
But…I’m choosing joy and hope… in every… single… thing. It may be naive to think that choosing joy is the answer to life’s problems, but I’ve seen too many examples that prove the theory…a couple finding love in a refugee camp, a lonely senior citizen’s life made better by a girl he met in the grocery store, and the countless smiles of people everywhere who find the good, even amid the indescribably awful.
When the holidays feel like a little too much, when I’m stressed out about everything we’ve taken on this Christmas, when my kids argue, when they make messes (constantly!), when I’m feeling sorry for myself, even though I have absolutely nothing to complain about, I remember Sarah’s song: in every… single… thing. And I will think back to “The Christmas Scale,” where the best news in the world can be found in an 8-note scale.