This season, Tara and I are preparing to sing several musical selections with the Midland Chorale at our annual “Holiday Extravaganza” at the Center for the Arts. One of the songs we are practicing is called “Christmas on Broadway.” This is a medley of holiday tunes from different Broadway shows through the years: “It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas,” “My Favorite Things,” that kind of music.

The final tune in this medley is called “God Bless Us Everyone,” from the musical version of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.”  The lyrics, written by Lynn Ahrens, are simple yet meaningful:

In your heart there’s a light as bright as a star in heaven.
Let it shine through the night, and God bless us, everyone.
‘Til each child is fed, ’til all men are free, ’til the world becomes a family…
Star by star up above, and kindness by human kindness,
Light this world with your love, and God bless us, everyone.

These words alone are worth pondering: the tasks of feeding each child, freeing each person, and counting stars are seemingly endless tasks. But global problems must be approached one person at a time, because each life that is changed is worth the investment.

Last Monday, we ran into an interesting musical problem while rehearsing this tune.  When we sing the line “and God bless us, everyone,” there is a big leap downward from “and” to “God.” Some of the singers in our choir were struggling with this jump downward, so our director paused and said, “it sounds like some of you are having trouble getting down to ‘God.'” Then he looked at me and said, “Getting Down to God would make a good sermon title!”

A lot could be said about “getting down to God.” Is God somehow lower than us? Do we try to make God too complicated, when really God should be simpler than we make him? Are we guilty of thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought?

But think about this: “getting down” to a lower note, vocally speaking, means reducing the frequency of the pitch being produced by your voice. In terms of sound waves, lower frequency means the waves somehow slow down (technically, the speed of sound doesn’t change; the period of a sound wave gets longer as the frequency drops). “Getting down” to a lower note means slowing down, taking more time, as if the sound waves are paying more attention to the world around them.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?”Jesus asked. (Luke 8:42b-45a NIV)

Jesus slowed down and paid attention to those around him, even though he was being crushed by the crowds. While on his way to another (life and death!) ministry situation, Jesus paused to have a conversation with a woman who trusted him for her healing. (Read the whole story in Luke 8:40-56.)

What if “Getting Down to God” means moving slowly through our world, like Jesus did?  What if it means paying attention to those in need around us and doing what we can to alleviate suffering, to raise quality of life, to bring redemption and healing in the name of Christ?

‘Til each child is fed, ’til all men are free, ’til the world becomes a family…

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