RITE OF PASSAGE: Christmas blessings
I have a confession to make: I once belonged to a singing group. I don’t imagine you’ve ever heard of “The Young Testimonies.” Not many people have. Our 1960s-era youth culture was divided into two segments: those who belonged to a singing group, and those who didn’t. Those who belonged to a singing group were subdivided into two smaller categories: rock ’n roll music or church music. You probably know that our small group of unlikely singers belonged to the latter category. We lived in rural Missouri and put on concerts in small country churches. When I say, “small,” I mean that most of the time, our singing group was larger than the congregation.
I have recently reconnected with some of the Young Testimonies. It’s a funny thing, though; they don’t seem so young anymore. Even funnier is the fact that on a scale of one to 10, my singing ability ranks in the negative range. People around the world have commented on my singing. They all say I sing with feeling. They just can’t imagine anyone feeling that bad.
Since I couldn’t sing, I did most of the preaching for our Young Testimonies events. Back then, even my preaching wasn’t too good. I mixed up my words time after time. Once, I preached a sermon called “Roses’ Mod.” If you’re dyslexic, you know that’s how “Moses’ Rod” came out. Gaylen Crow, a young man in our group, was one of our better singers. At the end of one service while every head was bowed, I turned to Gaylen and asked in my best Billy Graham tone, “Brother Prayer, would you come and crow for us?” I have never heard so many people laughing under their breath during a prayer! Even after all these years I still stumble over my words at times. But I have incredibly fond memories of those days.
Each December, our little group went out Christmas caroling. I had grown up in churches that went caroling every year. We Moores considered it part of our holiday festivities. We would go to an elderly couple’s home and stand outside in the snow, a bitter Northerner gusting across our faces. As we stood, poised and ready, you would have thought we were a famous choir. We sang out into the darkness with all the strength we could muster.
The process was almost always the same. As we sang, a porch light came on and a curtain rippled slightly as someone peeked out to see what all the racket was about. Their curiosity soon turned to a delighted smile. The inside door opened and a senior adult was wheeled in front of the storm door, a blanket draped over their lap. The cares of the world lifted for a few minutes as they enjoyed their private concert. Sometimes when we sang the Christmas classics (“Joy to the World,” “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” or “Silent Night”) they sang along.
There must be a Christmas Caroling Law that says you end the concert at every house with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” and we always did. Before we left, we went up to shake hands or wave before we tramped off to the next home.
Those special moments taught me about the privilege of sharing a blessing. Long after we departed, the joy we brought would continue. I could imagine our senior friend on the telephone telling their children and grandchildren about the carolers’ visit. Of course, the blessing worked both ways. God grants us an indescribable joy when we take the time to bless others.
It has been years since I’ve gone caroling. I’m not sure it happens very often anymore. The tradition may live on in rural America, but in the city . . . not so much. We typically have so many parties and holiday events to attend that we forget the simple pleasures of Christmas. If the Lord tarries, it won’t be long before many of us will be homebound. Will someone care enough to bless us with the songs of Christmas?
I grew up in a family that lived a lifestyle of blessing others. My mom was the ringleader of it all. My dad used to say if it wasn’t nailed down, she would give it to someone less fortunate. Mom never thought about the cost of her gifts; she simply gave. My three brothers have continued this lifestyle.
Sometimes, I feel sorry for today’s young people. We often give them so much that we rob them of the joy of blessing others. At Christmastime and always, we need to remember that little phrase in the Bible. “For God so loved the world that . . . He gave.”
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827.