Where do I even begin with talking about Christmas Fest? I guess I’ll start by saying that it is my second favorite experience of the year, in between #1: all of Holy Week and #3: Christmas Eve itself. The more I keep thinking about Fest, the more I compare it to how Luther sees the world.
For me, Christmas Fest is a religious experience. The texts we sing combined with the crazy amount of talent in the room is definite proof to me that God exists and knows how to have a great time. Of course, this is colored by my personal beliefs that God is everywhere and that everything is a spiritual experience as long as it is done with the right intent. But even those who don’t necessarily have the “God is everywhere” mentality – I think of my roommate who doesn’t really practice any faith anymore – can still feel as though they have been religiously, or at least spiritually, restored by the festival.
So how does this connect to Luther and the Reformation? I keep thinking of what Pastor Matt said to us before fall break, that God has given believers a free gift. We can accept the gift or not, but we can not ever pay back the gift. So we find ways to celebrate, glorify, and recognize this gift in the hopes that one day it will be enough. This gift is Christmas Fest (except WHOA it is definitely not a free gift… $$). Dr. Armstrong always talks about a serving spirit, and how this festival isn’t for us to just show off, but make others feel. Feel more whole, more loved, more inspired. It is Luther’s mentality about faith and grace. The audience can attend Christmas Fest and choose whether or not to accept the gift we are giving. We, as choristers and orchestra members, can choose whether or not to accept the texts the planning committee has given us. The gift of the experience of Fest is, to me, priceless. I know I can never “pay back” the conductors, the pastors, the audiences, the logistics team, etc. for this marvelous experience. But I know that I can pay it forward through my singing and attitude, turning grace into works.