Sunday, a dear friend and her two young boys were at my house for lunch. After our chocolate chip pancakes and apple slices, we decided to worship together for the second Sunday of Advent by lighting the second candle on the wreath and singing a few Christmas carols.
As the two boys are quite young – three and five – I decided on just one short Psalm for our reading, and asked them each to help me light one of the candles. The oldest helped me light last week’s candle before the reading, and then the youngest helped me with this weeks’ candle after the reading. It sounds far more idyllic now as I am writing it. But in fact, it was a little chaotic, as anyone who spends time with three- and five-year-olds can imagine.
After our brief candle lighting ceremony, we were ready to sing. I got out my guitar, and as we were flipping through the book of carols, the only song the boys wanted to sing was “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells,” which their mother told them was not exactly appropriate. But when we realized that this was the only song they knew that I could actually play on the guitar, “Jingle Bells” it was, smelly superheroes excluded.
But just as I was about to begin the song, I realized that “someone” had “helped” me tune the guitar by randomly turning the knobs on the end of the neck. So in the midst of our Advent ceremony, I had to stop and tune up. I got out my battery-operated tuner, and began strumming each string and making adjustments.
Suddenly, the five-year-old stopped in amazement and said, “Is that Beethoven you’re playing?”
His mom and I both laughed, thinking he was making a joke. But he said it again, “Is that Beethoven?”
“No, Beethoven played the piano. Charity’s just tuning the guitar, getting each string to sound just right” my friend explained.
But it didn’t matter what she called it, to a five-year-old, the sounds I was making were music to his ears. He was so impressed, in fact, that he told me the next time he comes over he would like for me to give him music lessons.
After we finally got around to singing “Jingle Bells” a few times, we put away the guitar and blew out the candles (which was actually more fun for the little guys than lighting them!). My friend commented that this had probably been an Advent Sunday like no other for me. And in many ways, she was right. I know it was the first time I’ve made chocolate chip pancakes for Advent. That’s for sure.
But after reflecting on our time together, I hope I can always approach the comings of Jesus with this same childlike wonder that mistakes tuning a guitar for Beethoven. I pray that Jesus will give me the genuine humility to ask for lessons from others rather than insisting I know how to do everything myself. And I pray that I will always prefer blowing out the candles to lighting them.