It’s August, my “construction season”– I should have been well on my way to finishing the 2015 Christmas celebration for Messiah. But there I was, on a beautiful August evening with my entire family sitting in this sea of red. We were at the Cardinal’s baseball game –and there was no Christmas musical in sight. I mean, really, how many times can you tell the story about baby Jesus without feeling like “we’ve done this one before?” As you might imagine, it started to weigh on my heart as the summer went along, and certainly by now I should have been done! But there I sat empty, void, clueless, scared, anxious, and worried. I had only one spark of inspiration, a song that was stirring in my heart–Love Ran Red by Chris Tomlin.
I was on our mission trip to Poland just 12 days prior to this night at the ballpark. On the last morning in Poland, I received word that a very dear friend from my high school days at Valley Lutheran, lost her battle to cancer. Beth was leaving behind a beautiful family: her husband, Joe, and her sweet 10 year old son, Allesandro. I had no time to process this devastating news, for the team was all set and ready to journey to Wavel Castle, Krakow. But God wouldn’t let go of me that morning.
After getting everyone settled I found myself able to walk away from the group for a bit where I experienced 15 of the most glorious “holy moments!” I was immediately drawn up to the very front of this enormous cathedral, to sit at the foot of the majestic altar. Now I know that I was surrounded by clusters of tourists bustling around me…but in that moment it felt like it was just me and Jesus. I started to look deeply into the details of this ornate golden altar area…but found my eyes drawn to this stark, yet beautiful, painting of Jesus on the cross right in the center of it all. I was in awe, I was speechless, I was in tears, OK- I was sobbing. But within those tears I was choking out the melody that was ringing in my ear buds as I happened to turn on my phone’s music playlist. Love Ran Red was playing.
I was in a holy moment…the Holy Spirit captured and captivated my attention. I had no choice other than to sing out loud amidst the people because this saving LOVE of JESUS ran red, for Beth. His LOVE ran red for Joe. His LOVE ran red for Allesandro….for you …for me! Our Savior, Jesus Christ, died so that we might LIVE eternally forever in His presence! I wanted to stay there for hours…but moments had to suffice. Holy moments …God speaks!
But back to baseball….That night at the cardinal’s game, I received two messages. One from a member of Beth’s family, really just out of nowhere, as we haven’t all stayed connected since high school. It was a note of thanksgiving for the prayers and encouragement for their family during this time. I was able to share the LOVE RAN RED Wavel cathedral experience, and to assure them we continue to hold them all in prayer. And then the other text came from a dear friend at Messiah who knows me very well. We were just having some friendly catch-up conversation when she poised a simple text that was intended to be funny.
Coincidence? I think we all know the answer. God was pointing me back….using people and circumstances around me. My response, “My inspiration point: the color RED” was also intended to be funny, but within this humorous exchange God ended up lifting the most enormous weight off my chest. For in the moment that I swiped my finger across send, I felt it again. A holy moment…a glorious rumble within. Love Ran Red was singing in my head again, and I knew that God had given me the title and the starting point of His Christmas worship creation….RED. My mind went racing to the glorious Christmas color that fills our homes with poinsettias and holly berries …as well as the color we use to represent love, and sacrifice. I only had one question, “God, where do we go from here?…..”
Part II will be published next Tuesday, December 8!
Beth Schult is the Director of Worship Arts at Messiah. She blogs about music, worship and creative expressions of faith.