November 20, 5 pm, I was driving on 28th St in Grand Rapids, MI, to begin the journey back home to Ontario from the denominational building. A couple hours later, somewhere around Flint, it was time for the double fill-up: gas and food.
I’m not fussy; I walked into a diner, ordered a meal, and then noticed I was the only patron in the place. I also realized that my munching would be serenaded by schmaltzy Christmas music. Groan. The first Sunday of Advent was still 12 days away! And, I’m a musician. In a pinch, good music is more important to me than good food (though enjoying them simultaneously is always a treat).
But about eight minutes into the meal, everything changed. A stripped-down folksy version of “Mary, Did You Know?” came over the system, and within twenty seconds I found myself praying along with the singer.
I had forgotten what a powerful, biblically rich worship song this is! During the final verse, I simply closed my eyes and bowed my head:
Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I AM!
To my great surprise, the musical food was more nourishing than the physical food. And I wondered if that Flint diner had some things in common with that stable in Bethlehem.
This Sunday does mark the beginning of Advent. I’m grateful for three minutes of grace in an unexpected place on a cold night too far from home...three minutes that served to prepare my heart to awaken Advent longings again. Thank you, Lord, for tender mercies provided in an unusual way.