I have a card on my desk for a service that already happened. The date’s past, but I keep the card on my desk as a daily prayer reminder of those who are facing the holidays without a loved one. On the card is the poem – “I Am Learning How to Live.” It’s not just those who are grieving a fresh loss that are learning how to live. In a sense, all of us are learning how to live. If we stop learning how to live, fully and hopefully, we are merely surviving.
Struggles always bring the temptation to slip into a merely surviving mode. There are those struggling to make ends meet, who feel burdened, especially at the holidays. However, there are those with all they need who may be feeling overwhelmed in any one of a myriad of ways.
As we draw near the manger, we are reminded life is about more than just surviving. Jesus’ life began with a struggle: being born in a cowshed, being wrapped in rags and laid in a feed trough. Part of learning how to live is choosing how we speak of things; so we say “in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.” It was a night about surviving, but also a night filled with meaning; meaning transforms ‘just surviving’ into ‘learning how to live.’
This Sunday Grace Choir, a woman’s ensemble, and Voce’ Hominum from Concordia will fill our worship with song. Grace Choir is not fond of applause because they aren’t singing for recognition or training to be the next pop stars. But, we’ll have a chance to applaud at the end of it all, because worshipers do need ways to respond when their spirits are lifted. The point is, when I talk with people who sing in church choirs, often it is something they do because it uplifts them and fills them; it gives them a way to serve God. The music, getting together with others to practice, and being part of creating something beautiful adds meaning to life. In other words, choir is a way for our spiritual selves to “learn how to live.”
If you are feeling like life is “just surviving,” I encourage you to find something, some practice that adds meaning to life. It may be gathering for a 1/2 hour coffee once a week with one or two other people simple to create a list of people to keep in prayer during the week. It may be creating one Christmas gift for someone that is homemade. (Don’t feel rushed – a Christmas gift can be given in January or February and still bless someone). You may choose to find and share a single, completely positive, no negativity or criticism, Facebook post each day to bless a world that sees too much anger and despair. In other words, find a way to do something that adds a little beauty and love to the world. If you can, coax a friend to do the same. If hearing this Sunday’s music really moves you, ask Jack (our Choir director) about being part of Grace choir for the second half of the year.
Jesus said, “I came that (all) may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 KJV. Everyday is an opportunity for us to say, “Today, I am learning how to live.”
“We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.” (Marianne Williamson)