The late Bernard Reichel was a 20th century classical composer from the canton (district) Neuchatel, a French speaking part of Switzerland. He was once conducting a final rehearsal of Handel’s Messiah. They had come to the part where the soprano soloist takes up the refrain, “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (from Job 19:25). Every note was sung to perfection. Her technique was flawless, her breathing perfect, as was her enunciation. When she completed her part, the entire orchestra looked at Reichel, expecting him to give his nod of approval.

With a motion from his baton for silence, he stepped down from the podium and made his way to the soloist. With a look of sorrow, he said, ‘My daughter, you do not know that your Redeemer truly lives, do you?’.

Embarrassed, she replied, ‘Why, yes. I think I do’. ‘Then sing it!’, cried Reichel. ‘Tell it to me so that I will know, and all who hear you will know that you know the joy and power of it!’.

Turning to the orchestra, he motioned to begin again. This time the soloist just sang the words as her declaration of faith in her precious, risen Lord. Those who listened wept and Reichel, eyes filled with tears, said to her, ‘You do know, for this time you have told me!’.

In a short while we will be celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour. Unless you’ve become a follower Jesus after Christmas last year, this is not your first Christmas. For most of us, there is a sense of déjà vu at this time of the year. ‘Been there, done that!’ We know the traditional Christmas story and Carols inside out. If there was a quiz, you’d probably get a perfect score.

The question though is this: can you remember and tell the Christmas story, so that ‘all who hear you will know that you know the joy and power of it!’? Can you sing ‘O Holy Night’, the bit where it says, ‘Fall on your knees; O hear the angels’ voices, O night divine; O night when Christ was born’, or ‘O Come  let us adore him’, so that ‘all who hear you will know you know the joy and power of it!’?

Let us ask God to help us by His Spirit to be enchanted and enraptured by the words of the angel to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

Mark