Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory.
Is. 60:1-2, from the first reading for Epiphany Sunday.
There's that wonderful verse again that keeps catching my attention in Handel's Messiah. It caught me again hearing it read at Mass on Sunday.
At School of Community on Saturday my friend Suzanne asked a question that I'll rephrase (because I have forgotten the exact wording she used) this way: where is the glory of God being revealed, where are we encountering the reality of Christ, right here, right now in our lived experience. This is a pretty basic CL question, but I feel nudged to seek for an answer in a particular way, in focusing not in the realm of my life that is either interior or virtual -- both of which are real -- but in the realm of life that involves other real people with whom I rub shoulders with from day to day. Do I see God in this kind of day to day? This is the question that has echoed in my heart. How much do I overlook or take for granted?
I didn't have to look too terribly far for a nice example to share Sunday. (It's after midnight; I can't say "today" anymore.)
We arrived at Mass when the clock in the car already said 11:00. Fortunately, Mass had not actually started yet. Fortunately or unfortunately, as you choose to see it, the church was jam packed and few seats were available for two adults and two small wigglers. Except the ever-faithful pew behind the choir. Since becoming a cantor I have been more aware that those seats are often available. Strewn with coats, but available. (Great, now all my friends from my parish know our secret!!)
So I led my kiddos back there, and hubby followed after parking (he does the chivalrous thing by letting us off by the door, even, or especially, when we run late). I already had many strikes against me (running late because of waiting for my son, who was cranky, it was raining, packed church, cramped area). But none of this really got under my skin by some great grace.
Then as we sat, one of the singers greeted me with a big smile and a suggestion that maybe I should just sing along, too. I smiled back and said "sure," just kind of playing along. Ten seconds later, I heard "Is she singing?" "Yeah." "She's a cantor, you know" "Oh! great" and then I had music in my hands. The three men who had been conversing turned around and smiled with genuine happiness. At the sign of peace I received other grins from the alto section. I sang all but the last hymn (my daughter demanded my attention through that one). But it was so evident that I was very welcomed, unconditionally, into this choir community. It didn't matter that I hadn't practiced. It didn't matter that I had two children banging into me. I was treated as a gift to be received, not an intrusion, or someone messing things up. Afterwards the choir director (who also is the organist I work with when I cantor) smiled and said "So, we'll see you Tuesday at 7:30, right?" Several members of the choir have asked me from time to time since I joined the parish whether I would join the choir. I've generally begged off because of small children, but even this hasn't caused anyone to turn away from me. I know that in many parish settings, no one might ever extend any personal invitation to me, let alone welcome me like I was welcomed today. I was really being welcomed as Christ, and as by Christ.