My smile got a big boost last night as we were privileged and blessed to be gifted with amazing seats to participate in "Christmas At Luther: Saviour of the Nations Come!". It was an experience like nothing I ever really imagined, and one which I know will stay with me the rest of my days.
Raised in a Baptist church in the day when elaborate musical programs were considered "worldly", and were done by Catholics (considered to be the "Whore of Babylon" in fundamentalist theology of the sixties at least), and Lutherans -- considered to be another of the apostate churches by that particular Baptist sect, my exposure to such worship was non-existent.
Add to this the fact that my musical talent would generously class as "minimal", and my background in any sort of classical music or understanding is woefully barren, and we have the proverbial beggar approaching the banquet. Oh, while we are at it, such a feast of spirit is properly preceded by a feast of a Norwegian buffet -- lefse, lutefisk, meatballs, brussels sprouts (which a like) and heavenly rutabaga mashed potatoes. It was definitely the best lutefisk which I have ever given a game try -- for some reason my Swedish blood apparently just can't quite get by the quiver though! We Swedes crushed the Norwegians potatoes and dumped lye on their fish, and the resourceful Norse consider them delicacies!
I'm not equipped to make intelligent comment on the program. Rapt amazement, awe and joy are the operative terms that come to me. SIX HUNDRED FIFTY young vocalists with symphony orchestra, handbell choir, heavenly organ in an incredible setting and really for the first time in my life I considered that angelic choirs and instruments praising God really could be something to look forward to in Heaven ... although I'm not giving up on shore lunch with Jesus.
I'm not sure two hours have ever passed faster! I was somewhat surprised, but very gratified to see that this was DEFINITELY an unabashed and unapologetic CHRISTIAN CHRISTMAS celebration, . It included some of the manadary modern nods to "diversity", but they were not a distraction. I did reflect a bit on "why"? The crowd and the student body were certainly conspicuously caucasian with only sprinkling of others, but we were after all in Decorah IA, deep in the midwest.
In some ways the evening was coming "full circle". It was interaction with Luther graduates at IBM that provided the example that eventually led me to the Lutheran Church. I felt as if I was privileged to glimpse a special bit of that rich spiritual heritage that eventually drew me to the Lutheran Church. (a bit on that if interested)
What a miraculous complex creation we are gifted with. A little Norwegian-American school named after "Luther", a somewhat brooding German's German. Germany, where much later a madman idolized the Valkyries and a vision of "Aryan" that looked positively Norse, yet he himself looked nothing like the ideal. Enjoying the celebration of a Jewish child born in the mideast over 2,000 years ago with many aspects of the actual holiday translated by a Roman Church from pagan winter solstice rituals -- a Roman Church that the German Luther stood up to in The Reformation, 500 years ago in 2017.
Somehow though, when the candles are lit and the strains of the "First Nowell" are coursing through the night and our gathered spirits, it is all simple.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Merry Christmas ... er wait, "Happy Advent" ... I'm a Lutheran now!