“Joy to the world, the Lord is Come!” The melodic sounds of the season echoed through Harper-McNeeley Auditorium on Sunday evening as The Davis & Elkins College Concert Choir led a gathering of community and campus participants in the annual Festival of Carols. Always a personal highlight of the year, the liturgical season of Advent began in grand style as we came together to worship, sing, pray, and hear the miraculous story of God becoming flesh to dwell among us.
The Concert Choir of D&E, under the capable direction of Liz Marshall MacVean and Donna Baroudi Huffman, did not disappoint. These talented young men and women animated the Biblical story of Christmas with moments of high praise as well as deep reflection. As the choir sang Holy Night, Silent Night” I found myself reflecting upon God’s gift cuddled in a mother’s arms. I also thought of our modern wayward and war-torn world, and how desperately we need to experience the comfort, hope, and peace of the Christmas message.
On a college campus it is not often we experience things through the eyes of children. Yet, we had just such an opportunity compliments of a new arrival at D&E this academic year, Dr. Brantley Craig. Our new professor of Religion and Philosophy, Dr. Craig invited all children in attendance to the stage to sit with him and listen to the scriptural stories of faith he would be reading. Dr. Craig reminded all of us that the Biblical stories of old, for children from ages 9 to 99, are meant to inspire as well as elicit our sense of wonder and soothe our souls. Seated in his rocking chair properly attired in his stocking cap, the story of Christmas came alive yet again. Dr. Renaud Stauber added his musical talents performing Ava Maria on the violin while talented freshman Hannah Scoggin mesmerized all with her playing of “O Holy Night” on the piano. Prayers for the season were offered by sophomore Sydney Megna.
I had the high honor of bringing the Christmas message to complement all the elements of the worship experience. I shared the notion of the “ordinary sacredness” of Christmas as God once again used ordinary people to invade the moment with the divine. A peasant woman named Mary, a feeding trough full of straw, and a baby’s birth are not generally the recipe for changing the course of humankind. Yet God somehow takes the ordinary and makes it all sacred. Emmanuel…God with us…was literally held in his mother’s arms and wrapped in swaddling clothes. The miracle and the majesty of Christmas was on full display.
As the fall semester nears its close with final exams next week, it has been yet another stellar academic term in the storied history of Davis & Elkins College. The Festival of Carols was simply the exclamation point on a positive and productive semester. As the winter break approaches for students, this weekly column will take a hiatus to return after students return in January. Until that time, may this season of preparation called Advent be meaningful for all as it leads to the joy and peace that is Christmas.
The journey continues….
Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College