And a Little Child Shall Lead Them
The Rev. Jennifer L. Adams- December 22, 2013 – Advent IV – Lessons and Carols
There was a wonderful YouTube that video went viral a week or so ago. Maybe some of you saw it. It was a video of a kids’ Christmas concert, kindergartners I think who were singing the usual collection of holiday fare. You can picture the scene: they were arranged on bleachers, packed in tight, dressed festively in reds and greens, and completely unable to contain that kind of energy that five and six year olds seem to ooze this time of year. The singing was of course a little louder than a fine choral performance might have offered, but the performers were all very five and six-ish and the energy was overflowing. So the expressions and words were more like genuinely joyful shouts.
Now at the center of this video was a little girl and she was singing all the words of the songs right along with all the rest of the kids. She was blond and pony-tailed and dressed in a cute red and green patterned dress. But while the other kids were doing the standard hand motions that they had all learned, this little girl was doing something different. And it was something beautiful.
Because she knew that even the louder shouts combined with the carefully choreographed motions wouldn’t reach her parents ears. The story behind the video is that both her parents are deaf and so this little girl had been raised with two languages – spoken and sign. And so as she approached this important day – first school concert ever – she made what I would consider a brave decision. She decided that her parents were going to be able to hear the concert too. And so through the entire concert this little girl sang right along with the whole lot of them, but she also signed every word so that her parents could “hear.”
And this is why I should never go beyond adorable cat videos, because by the end of it I and at least one other staff member were sitting in front of the computer in tears, wiping our faces at the pure gift of it all.
So I think of this little girl’s gift as a good way for us to think about what we celebrate today. In some ways that little girl did what God was doing through all the stories and songs we just heard. Through all of Scripture, God is speaking in ways that allow us to hear – and speaking in new ways, different ways, so that those on the margins can hear too. First there was creation – when the word spoken made the heavens and the earth and all that is in it. And then in other stories too – God spoke to Moses through a fire, catching his attention with flame right in the middle of a rocky, barren place. And in the story of the nativity – the story that is foremost in our minds and hearts this week – right there in the midst of normal sorts of day-to-day events, God spoke to Mary through an angel and to Joseph in a dream, finding ways that could be heard so that a new Word could come into being among us.
And so Mary and Joseph were watching this concert when something miraculous happened, God spoke to them, for them in ways that they could hear. There was God sending signs, giving them all that they needed to know in order to help them parent Jesus, the Word of God. And then Christ spent his entire life and his death too, singing from within tradition but also signing to those on the margins who had yet to hear the good news of God’s grace.
So, for those who have yet to hear, we can be this kind of gift. We can be the signs, the voices that help the story live, reaching out to new places, to new people in beautiful, loving ways. And we can be the ones who watch and listen for the surprising ways in which holiness continues to speak – through children, through the deaf, the blind, the lame – through any of us revealing the goodness and mercy of God.