I was raised Lutheran and we attended a Lutheran Church in south Florida. Usually in December, the temps are in the 60s, but one year it was unseasonably cold, low 40s. Coincidentally, our pastor had arranged for a girl’s choir from Norway to come perform as part of their US tour…almost everyone in Scandinavia is Lutheran. It was as though they had brought the frigid Norwegian cold with them.
The songs were beautifully performed, about half in Norwegian and half in English. My dad understood the ones in his native tongue and I noticed a little shimmer in his eyes at some…his family had lost everything one year in a fire and the church had helped he and his family tremendously through this rough period. He told me once that it had been the kindness of their pastor that brought him to faith, a faith that sustained him during his wartime years in the Pacific.
The highpoint of the Christmas Eve service was when they dimmed the lights and the soloist donned a crown covered with lit candles. As the strains of “Santa Lucia” soared in the 30-foot sanctuary space and the soloist’s face was alit with a beatific glow, it was as though the Angel Gabriel was announcing to us the good news of that evening uncounted winters ago. I remember it like it was yesterday although it’s been over four decades.
I wish everyone a joyous Christmas and a healthy, prosperous and awesome new year.