WordPress is being a bit of a bear today, so hopefully this post makes it to you okay. (Work is also being a bear all this week, but that’s the nature of the end-of-semester beast.)
Welcome to Advent, Reader! And, as I have for the past several Advents, I welcome you to an overview of a few Christmas-season songs. Today’s you may or may not be familiar with; I’ve sung it in choir several times, but not in church. To catch you up, here’s a pretty straightforward version.
The thing about this song—beyond the fact that it’s a Catalan carol, and hurrah for internationalism and all—is that there doesn’t really seem to be any consensus on the lyrics. It’s kind of like the 12 Days of Christmas where everyone is super focused on the “five gold rings” part but is pretty fuzzy on all the other numbers; in this, everyone just wants to sing the “fum” bit, because it’s fun. Sure, there are plenty of explanations as what “fum” really means (smoke, some say, like out of a chimney) or what it’s doing in the song (mimicking a guitar, but my guitars don’t go “fum”), but really? It’s fun. (By the way, in case you skip the tune link: it’s pronounced “foom,” not “fuhm.”) Try it—just say “fum, fum, fum.” I’ll wait.
I’ve been singing my whole life (I have a concert tomorrow, actually, which worries me terribly because I have a sore throat today and no idea how I’m going to coax my voice to keep working), and I hate singing silly nonsensical stuff. But sometimes you have to do that. Sometimes you have to shake off the seriousness and tell the simplest story just because it’s fun. That’s what they teach us as kids, and while I’m glad we grow out of that into deeper and more complex things, it’s something to which we should hold as we navigate the world of really intense moments.
My mind, today, as well as my heart and soul, is not really here working on my semester planning reports and my job description tool and my hiring letters for instructors. Those are necessary to do, but my attention is in a discussion panel I went to on responses to the events of Ferguson and Staten Island. My brain is focused on my body which is getting tired too quickly today because I have done too much of late. My heart is with the church conference meeting I attended last night and all the possibilities that are opening up for me and for my congregation.
I note well that none of that says that my soul is concentrating on being in Advent.
Waiting is rough, and waiting with focus is even rougher. Waiting with intent and vision of the coming of this Christ child, this incarnate God, is not high on my to-do list right now because there are so many other things to think about. I have stuff to do, Reader; I’ll think about Jesus on Christmas. But it doesn’t work like that. The whole of Advent is about bending yourself to what’s coming, which is markedly different from the usual message of being sacredly present in the now. Somehow we are asked to do both, and I’m not all that good at it, but maybe it helps if you take it down to the essentials, or jazz it up a bit, or cut out the lyrics entirely.
Or maybe it helps if you just jump in on the “fum” part, and let somebody else take care of the story for just a second so you can rest in the waiting for that next chorus. That’s valid, too, and to admit that you don’t always know what’s coming up next can be a fine thing.
But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes. (1 Corinthians 8:1b-3, NLT)