Will you let the Christ Child sing you back to life?

The assigned Gospel lesson for the 4th Sunday in Advent is Mary’s song.

Luke 1:39-56  In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

When our children were infants, Lynn and I did a lot of singing, especially when trying to rock one of our babies to sleep.  I can remember singing one of the songs Peter, Paul, and Mary recorded, “Hush, Little Baby.”  It always seemed to work. Sometimes, I would sing “Amazing Grace.”  This time of year, my favorite was, “Little Drummer Boy.”

One of the deeply primal experiences of the Advent and Christmas season is music. Last night we were privileged to experience Amy Grant and Vince Gill at the Ryman for their  Christmas show. It’s always a moving experience to listen as Amy and Vince draw the audience into a place of wonder and joy. Music is a gift.

Long before “Handel’s Messiah” was inspired, there was singing. Mary sings, “My soul magnifies the Lord,  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”  Later, the angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest!” The Bible is filled with music, hymns of praise, joy and even of lament.

I’ve even wondered if the wise men weren’t singing “We Three Kings” on their way to bring gifts.

I’ve long believed that music has healing qualities. Maybe that is why our churches are packed on Christmas Eve. 

We need to be touched in our souls and Christmas gives us that chance.  

Some years ago, a story made the rounds about a little boy whose singing did just that.   

Karen was an active member of Panther Springs United Methodist Church in Morristown, TN.  When Karen was pregnant with her second child, a seemingly normal pregnancy, her 3-year-old son, Michael, began a relationship with his unborn sister by singing to her every night. Night after night, he would sing his new sister a song. When it came time for Karen to give birth to the baby, there was trouble during the delivery. Michael’s baby sister was in serious condition by the time she was finally born. The infant was immediately rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care unit at St. Mary’s Hospital in Knoxville, TN.  

As the days crawled by, the infant grew weaker and weaker. The pediatric specialist told the family that it looked very grave for the little girl and began to prepare them for her expected death. During the stay in the intensive care unit, Michael asked continually about seeing his little sister. He wanted to “sing” to her.

At the beginning of the second week, they dressed Michael in an over-sized scrub suit and took him in to see his sister. The medical personnel got angry because a 3-year-old was in the unit. Michael was asked to leave. His mom protested, simply saying, he’s not leaving until he sings to his baby sister. Michael made his way over to the bassinet that held  his sick little sister.  

He began to sing this song:
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray.  You’ll never know dear, how much I love you, so please don’t take, my sunshine away.”  

Everybody called it a miracle.  Karen called it a miracle of God’s love.

The next day, when they thought they’d be planning a funeral, they took the baby  home. She had responded to the familiar voice of her brother.

As you ponder in your heart the meaning of Christmas, will you let the Christ Child sing you back to life?

Might you invite someone you know – who needs to be sung back to life – into the midst of the singing that will surround us this Advent and Christmas?

Some of you know my favorite benediction that I found 40 years ago on a banner hanging in an office at the General Board of Discipleship.

He came singing love,
He lived singing love,
He died singing love.
He rose in silence.
If the song is to continue,
We must do the singing.

Deep Peace in this Advent Season,
Bill McAlilly

8 Comments on “Will you let the Christ Child sing you back to life?”

  1. Vida McClure says:

    I cried as I read about little Michael relationship with his unborn baby sister through music. Yes, when I am depressed, sad, discouraged I go to my piano – playing hymns but sometimes playing angrily – not always pretty but is healing to my spiritual being. O Holy Night – Mary, Did you Know – favorites of mine.

  2. Sandra T. says:

    What a blessing to read these words today. Thanks so much for the reminder!

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  4. Skip Armistead says:

    I appreciate receiving your thoughtful blog’s. Thank you again!


    PS – May Christ’s grace and peace become even more real in Lynn and your lives this Christmas!!!

  5. iamsamiam58 says:

    Reblogged this on iamsamiam58 and commented:

  6. Betsy says:

    Music is such a blessing; one that we can share with one another, especially during this Advent season! Thank you for reminding us.

  7. Don morris says:

    Sometimes at the end of a long day which has been the end of a long week . I find myself singing an advent song my teacher at seminary loved. “Come now long expected Jesus.” Then I’m reminded He has already come. Thanks for your words.

  8. davemc12546 says:

    wonderful piece!!