Eighteen-month-old Aviella pushes her new doll stroller while three-year-old Reuel sets up his “Planes” smoke jumpers’ course. The adults chat over wine.
It’s a nice little Christmas celebration –except we’re about to find out it’s much more than that.
We’re gathered to celebrate an early Christmas with our son Sam and his new bride, since they are slated to spend Christmas with Jamé’s family.
After a sumptuous meal, we make our way to the living room to exchange a few gifts.
Sam searches for a music video; Danny plugs his phone into the stereo to play it. Cloverton’s Christmas version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” washes over us.
In that moment, everything shifts. The boisterous activity quiets. A holy hush falls on the room.
I’ve heard about this baby boy
Who’s come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I’m singing Hallelujah
Danny hoists Avi to his hip. I light the candles on the little German nativity scene. Heat rises, pushing the fan. The figures spin.
Avi watches, fascinated, ears tuned to the song. She raises one hand high in the air, quietly focused.
A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God’s only Son was born, oh Hallelujah
Danny raises his free hand, joining his little girl in worship. My mind flashes back twenty-nine years.
I am at the bank with my infant son, Muzak playing over the loudspeakers. Danny raises his hands high and proclaims, ” ‘Lujah!”
The clerk asks what he means. I explain that Danny is saying “Hallelujah” because he sees all music as worship to God.
The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You’ll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah
Here we are, full circle, spontaneously worshiping together. All is calm, all is bright. Around us. Inside us.
Candles flicker. The nativity twirls.
A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wise men three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah
Our lives orbit around something. Around Someone. Jesus, the cornerstone, the centerpiece, the reference point to everything.
We savor the melody, drink in the words. I am entirely present in this sliver of time.
I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Then it hits me: pure worship makes time stand still, for time does not exist in the presence of God.
We couldn’t have planned this holy moment which I first wrote about two Christmases ago; it simply came. And it was so breath-taking that I’m sharing it again.
Reu and Avi are five and three now, and we’ve added two one-year-olds to the mix. Family gatherings are more boisterous than ever—but the Center of our celebrations hasn’t changed.
This season, may your soul be re-oriented to the One around whom everything else revolves. May time stand still as you enjoy perfect peace in His presence.
May your best gift this Christmas be the gift of a holy moment.