Ken Medema on music,travel,life.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Thinking About Christmas already in JULY

As I think about Christmas coming around again and the thought that I will have to put together some Christmas concerts, I am always confronted with this question; What will be my focus this year?
One of my favorite Christmas seasons was the one in which my concerts focused around the idea that everybody is pregnant. Jesus came into the world once but God is always doing something wonderful and new in every one of us. We, in the Church then, are Mary and Elizabeth coming together to comfort, strengthen, and support each other during this pregnancy.

This year there must be a new focus. I woke up this very early this morning to get ready to take an early flight. As I got ready to go and drank my first coffee, the idea came bursting into my head. I have been thinking about this for a while now without success and this morning---there it was clear as a bell! I only hope that after several days of reflection it won't sound stupid. I think I would like to organize my Christmas concerts this year around the theme of these three questions.
1. What is this?
2. Why Me?
3. Where to?
I want to play with each of these questions in the weeks ahead. If you have any thoughts that might be helpful here, I would love to hear them.

1. What is this?
Surely the various characters in our Christmas story had to be asking the question, "What is this?" As the story is recounted in the scripture, there is a visit from an angel both to Mary and also to Joseph. This certainly is not in the normal course of things and could lead one to ask the "what is" question. The most awkward timing of this pregnancy with the necessity to make the trip to Bethlehem could engender that same question. The unusual presence of those shepherds, the birth in the manger, everything about this event is beyond the comfort zone, out of the usual, and troubling to say the least. What about Elizabeth pregnant as a very old woman, and her husband being struck dumb for the length of the pregnancy? It's just too strange. How often are we not presented with a great gift that makes us want to ask that same "What is this?" question.

When I think about the gifts I have been given that make me ask that question there are several that come to mind. Of course, the birth of my children always made me wonder what radical and troubling changes will this event make in my life. When I am relieved of my job and have the gift of time to explore what it might be like to go into full time concert work, I have to wonder what this is. When the house I am renting is sold and I am given the gift of the opportunity to live in another place, I ask, "What is this, what does it mean.?" When we are given the gift of a worldwide wake-up call, otherwise known as an economic crisis, we of course ask that same nagging question.

In the days between now and Christmas I want to ask that question over and over again in reference to so many gifts that have come into my life. Some of those gifts seem so very troublesome and way beyond my understanding, but I can't help believing that my task is to try to figure out what they mean and how I am supposed to accept and learn from and become a steward of these gifts. Mary Mary, what will you do with this boy? Joseph, Elizabeth, Zachariah, Harod, what will you do with this Christmas present grace has given you?
On my next post, I will play with the next question, "Why Me?" If you have any thoughts about these things, please let me know I would love to incorporate some insights from friends in these Christmas shows.


  1. Yes, the greatest gift in life are those who prove true friends. And if we are given company of those with whom we can share unique togetherness - we should always treat them as wonderful gifts. And that shall be our greatest question in hindsight - did we always come up to that in life? Did you? Did I? And if we didn't - let's take the chance and make up to our previous failure. Always there is a chance. It is never too late to appreciate those who really proved precious to us.

    A Friend, Houston, Texas.

  2. I got something good out of that post. Quoting or paraphrasing you - "Mary, Herod, Elizabeth, Zacarias, Joseph, what will you do with this gift, this baby boy?" I've never heard it put that way before. Very good, and thought-provoking.