Sunday evening I accompanied Mom and Robbie to St. Paul 's United Methodist Church . Along with many others, we sat in the pews and listened as the choir joyfully sang out the Christmas cantata, “Cross The Road”. What made this particular cantata special was the fact that the composer of the lyrics and melodies was also directing the choir - our very own Erwin Elms. I watched him as he led his flock of singers through songs that came from his heart, even as I was mesmerized by his hands effortlessly communicating a flowing sign language to the choir. By his side was his wife, Tamra, playing the piano. Between the two of them there also existed a silent language, and it was evident that they were two halves of a whole, totally in sync with one another.
The choir loft was full of men and women from all walks and stages of life. For an hour they were one voice singing praises to a child born 'cross the road, and their performance was excellent. And even as I was listening to their voices, I was also remembering - remembering others who had once sat in the choir loft. I noticed that several of the current singers were generational. For a moment I thought I heard Coleen's dad, Joe Randolph, singing. I looked at my sister, Nancy, and I saw standing beside her Mom and Daddy, and my grandfather, Pa French. Susie's mom, Sally Parker, was an alto, and her grandmother, Mrs. Palmer, played the organ for many, many years. Lu Ann's mom, my Aunt Barbara, was once the church pianist. And as I looked upon the faces of the present and remembered the faces of the past, I thought of the verse, “To all things there is a season…”
And then I looked at three faces that have been true stalwarts of the choir for as long as I've been alive - and that's approaching fifty years! Dorothy Kohler, Betty Jane Garrett and Rosemary Hood were where they belong - Rosie sitting at the organ and Dorothy and Betty standing in their choir robes. These three women are testaments of faithfulness, and I think they deserve a pin or something for their years of service, even though all three of them would probably be embarrassed to be acknowledged for something they gladly do on a weekly basis.
And then my eyes were drawn to the stained glass windows on the west side of the sanctuary. The sun was at just the right angle to showcase the colors and textures of the leaded glass panels, whose age goes far beyond mine. And like those three women, these works of art have withstood the test of time and continue to bless everyone who looks upon them.
When I was a little girl and it was time for Christmas, I remember flipping through the pages of the JC Penny and Montgomery Ward catalogs, checking out all the toys and baby dolls, all the roller skates and games, wishing, wishing, wishing for so many things. Santa came through more times than not, and on Christmas morning I would happily find the one thing I'd most wished for under the tree.
I have realized that I no longer wish for things, although I miss that exquisite feeling that comes with the wishing, the giddy anticipation of seeing which wishes came true. But, thankfully, and perhaps a little sadly, my wishing has given way to hoping and praying, not for material things but for ethereal things instead. Things like peace on earth, no more wars, love for each other, and the appreciation of life itself….things not found in catalogs or under the Christmas tree.
But just so you won't think I have forgotten the wonderment of wishing altogether, may you know that I saved back one special wish. The wish that each of you, both near and far, have a very special and memorable - yes, even a very merry - Christmas this year!