Saturday, January 14, 2012

Singing from the Sheltering Tree

Good cheer is something more than faith in the future, it is gratitude for the past and joy in the present. ~unknown

I love cardinals.  The brilliant red flash we see as the male flies from bird feeder to tree.  Yes, hands down, it is the male cardinal that is beautiful but wait, the female is pretty amazing, too. Yes, female cardinals dress up in dull olive or brown colors, even the red on their wings is subdued.  But, unlike most northern songbirds, this female sings!

"Cheer, Cheer, Cheer" is one of the song patterns this girl Cardinal sings. Don't you think that's one of the best songs to sing -- one of cheer?  God's Word encourages us to "Be of good cheer."

As I listened to Emily sing praise songs while preparing for her classes this morning my heart was cheered. It made me think about how important music is in the life of a family.

In my childhood memories I hear "Jesus, Lover of my Soul" sung by my pastor and his wife.  I hear my sister's voice singing "Where He leads Me I Will Follow."  I hear 17-year-old RB playing "Stepping in the Light" on the organ (both hands and both feet). I hear the choir RB led and the quartet he sang with.  All through my life, music has been with me.  I hear the Sankeys sing "We'll Be There" for Sarah's dedication and their children sing "Oh Rejoice in the Lord" for her funeral.

I see our friend and pastor singing with RB and his sister, Marsha, around the bed as my mother-in-law entered Heaven. There's 9-year-old Melanie singing for Emily's dedication and at eighteen singing, "It's a Love Letter From Me to You," to Shawn -- the song Janene wrote just for them.  Emily singing for school competitions, and with RB and Melanie down through the years.  My grandchildren singing at seems like every special memory I have is crowned with music.

Music doesn't just bring cheer; it comforts, rejoices and brings us ever closer to the God who created the  stars -- the same stars that sang together (Job 38:7).  It is rising crescendo blended together with clanging cymbals and the soulful crooning of a saxophone. It's the formal oratorio, sung in Latin, and the exuberance of tiny voices singing "Jesus Loves Me."

It's the lullaby sung by Mary to the Christ Child and the coronation of "O Worship the King." It's John Newton's "Amazing Grace" and Laura Story's "The Blessing."  This cheer is a choir accompanied by an orchestra and the A Capella Sunday morning worship voices lifted in praise to God.

It's God-given, this music we are speaking of.  Oh, the allegro, cadence, falsetto -- they are man-made words, but music is anything but man-made. It's God breathed. It's angels singing to announce Christ's birth and our voices joining in musical praise when Christ comes the second time.

So the next time you see a flash of red sitting on your bird feeder or the "cheer, cheer, cheer" of the Lady Cardinal calling to her mate, spread a little cheer.  It's as simple as singing praises to God.  Not only will God find joy in the praise, but those who live with you will be blessed, too.

* * * * *

Winter blahs settle in January.  Gifting shut-ins and young mothers with a cheer project is a perfect way to shelter. Writing the teacher resource materials for Sociology doesn't leave much time for crafting.  However, I did find a few projects for you to use in spreading cheer. We often think of cardinals as a Christmas, but with a few tweaks the projects can become winter gifts.

Think cupcake:  Packaging by Lisa Storm

Children will love this treat-filled log.  Trade the sparrow for a cardinal.

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