May 21st, 2019

Spirit Beyond Lyrics

Dear Editor:

The holiday season was here and along with expressions of glad tidings and good will came the entreaties to “ keep Christ in Christmas” and not to say “Happy Holidays” and in so doing bow to “political correctness.” As I reflect on my own feelings about this, I wonder if perhaps we need a different perspective.

A friend sent me a traditional Christmas card, and knowing I am Jewish wrote “Happy Hanukkah” on it. While I normally don’t favor such “mashups” and combining of holidays, I know him and his spirit, and welcomed his wishes and sentiments.

This week The WORLD asked eight readers to name their favorite Christmas carol. Three responded with “Silent Night” while the other chose such pieces as “Winter Wonderland” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” The church musician in me cried out, “ Those are secular Christmas songs and not carols,” instead of welcoming their genuine expressions of where they find happiness and pleasure this holiday season.

Over 30 years ago I was invited to join a majority African-American gospel and spiritual choir and was the only European-American male in the ensemble. Singing this music touched me in a new and profound way even though the theology was not mine. I quickly learned to go to the spirit beyond the lyrics.

In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says “As you have done for the least among us, so have you done for me.” I now understand that any expression that moves people to “do for the least among us” is good, and I hear the spirit beyond the specific words said. May it be so for all of us at this time.

Stephen L. Finner

Barre City

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