Sunday, December 16, 2012

room, or no room?

i wish my mom could hear them.  for the past month or so, my two teenagers have been walking around the house with occasional bursts of song -- the hallelujah chorus to be exact. "and He shall reign forever and ev-----er..." emily an alto and tyler a tenor. (though he tells me he's getting closer all the time to a bass - ha!)  one spontaneously begins and the other joins in -- at the dinner table, from their bedrooms, out in the garage -- i hear them. i wish my mom could too.  she's in ohio, but every time they start singing, i think about how much she would love the sound of her grandchildren's voices mixing together in her very favorite christmas music.  and, not to mention, it's impressive.  i mean this isn't jingle bells's handel's messiah.  pretty serious stuff.

now, i have to tell you, they didn't just learn it on their own...not for the fun of it.  they attend a high school which has this brilliant practice in place:  an all school choir.  this is different than choir class.  every monday morning around 10:30 the entire school -teachers and staff included - stop what they are doing and gather together to sing in the commons area.  isn't that the coolest idea ever?  when i heard that during the application process, i was like, "wow. awesome. so cool."  my kids have other interests than school choir, but i love the fact that they get a little piece of it regardless.  this tuesday night they will perform the hallelujah chorus at their high school christmas concert.  i truly can't wait, but i know i'll be wishing my mom could be there with us.

with five school aged kids in our house at christmas time, there is much music.  it's honestly one of my favorite things about this season -- all the singing and reciting and practicing of lines.  sarah's 7th grade class will sing in a special christmas chapel this coming week. she's been letting out her own occasional "ding dong merrily on high, in heav'n the bells are ringing!" and just a few days ago, we all gathered to watch bella's preschool program.  a slew of 4 year olds up on a stage singing "fear not, fear not, don't be afraid..."  what an amazing message for all of us.  i mean we were cracking up watching them.  they couldn't have been cuter (or more unfocused) up there waving wildly at parents and calling out loudly to friends.  looking up at the lights and down at the risers.  twirling hair and sparkly dresses. each kid was doing his own thing.  at one point, bella caught the eye of her sister who was apparently laughing too hard in the pew, and she began to yell (into the microphone, mind you) "stop it sarah! stop it!"  shortly after that little episode an unruly boy began to act up in the row behind bella -- she wasted no time turning around to give him a piece of her mind.  when she was finished with her scolding, she faced forward once again and told all of us with hands on her hips, "holden is not singing right!"  oh my.  the program was short,  that was probably a good thing.  but my goodness, it was so darn cute. we all piled back into our car on that - 4 degree night. cold weather outside, but warm with the joy of it all.

and then there was connor's christmas program.  he got to be in the K-4 christmas musical this year.  the 4th graders at chapel hill academy, being the oldest, get the big parts, of course,  and connor was to play joseph.  it wasn't the lead.  but he had a lot of lines and who doesn't want to be joseph, the father of baby Jesus, right?  connor took his part seriously.  he practiced those lines every single day, learning them all on his own.  i heard him up in his room.  i caught him in front of the bathroom mirror.  they boy was all in.  the performance was called "the first leon."  leon (noel spelled backward) was a boy who didn't get a real part in the christmas pageant.  (the whole thing was a play within a play).  instead he was cast as the lowly understudy to the lowly innkeeper.  he had only one line to learn, "no room."  and since anything is possible in the world of childrens' musicals, the innkeeper did, in fact, get sick and, understudy leon had to step in.  and that's where it all got good.  connor, up on stage as joseph, with his sweet mary looking for a room in bethlehem. you know the story: "in those days caesar augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken..." joseph and his betrothed, headed to the city of david on a donkey.  except in this version leon, now playing the role of innkeeper, is the one waiting for them. and when the kindergartners, dressed up as stable animals, wise men and angels were finished singing,  joseph and mary come across the stage to the innkeeper.  leon, in his big moment,  confidently delivers his one line, "no room."  because that's just how the story goes,  right?  joseph though, decided to press a little harder, "but don't you know mr. innkeeper, that this woman is carrying the savior, the son of God, the savior of the world?" we never talk about that part, do we?  did joseph plead, insist, beg or barter?  we don't really know.  but in this version he did and leon was right there with joseph.  in fact, he broke from the script and changed the whole outcome of the bethlehem story when he exclaimed, "wait!  you can have my room!"  after delivering this unusual and unexpected line, leon began his solo...

"you can have my room, Jesus.   
you're always welcome here, Jesus.  
i won't turn you away to a cattle stall.
you can have my room, Jesus.  
you can have it all."

leon, the understudy, understood what it meant to be on the outside looking in.  he understood what it felt like when there was no room.  no room in the circle of friends, no room at the popular lunch table, no room in the christmas pageant, no room for leon.  and just like that, he changed the story line,  declaring there WAS room for the little Lord Jesus.  there IS room in his heart.  "you can have my room!" he announced.

that might not be the traditional outcome of the bethlehem story.  but that's the message God wants us to have this christmas season:  there is room.  my little joseph and the unpredictable, innkeeper leon, didn't change the course of history in their 4th grade play at chapel hill this year, but they certainly pulled at the strings of this mama's heart. i have to give connor credit, he had prepared me. weeks ago, he explained "mom, when leon begins to sing his solo ... that's when you're supposed to cry... mr. zink said all the mom's will cry at that part."  i, have to tell you, i would have nailed my cue even if connor hadn't given me a heads up.

it was a sweet play.  the angels sang brightly.  the shepherds were darling.  the scene changes went smoothly.  and the message hit home. for days afterward, i continued to think about that one little line, "no room."  we have felt a little bit like that on our entrance into minnesota.  would there be room?  would there be room for our big, chaotic family?  would people welcome us into their church and school and community?  would there be room in the friend group or at the lunch table for a junior girl...a freshman boy...a 7th grader... a 4th grader...for bella?  we kind of wondered as we came.  we didn't travel by donkey.  we didn't come to be counted.  i am absolutely not "with child" and we sure as heck don't have anything too holy going on in our home most days, but we, too, have met some leons along the way.  men and women and children who have told us through their words and actions, "there's room." there's room for the mcnatts in minnesota.  

and so this christmas time, which could be quite difficult as we are far away from so many loved ones, somehow still feels warm.  we have snow piled so high you'd be amazed and temperatures so low you'd be appalled, but we are warm.  warm with the welcome and room in the hearts of so many here who have let us in to their lives.  who have shown us the love of Jesus making room in their schedules and circles and days for our family. 

i'm relating this to us, because it's what i tend to do, but don't miss the real message here in this piece.  it's not really about room for the mcnatts,  it's about room in our hearts for the Lord Jesus.  is there room in your heart for the sweet babe of bethlehem this christmas season?  when we, like leon, offer up our room, our lives, our is the sweetest song we will ever sing.
"you can have my room, Jesus.   
you're always welcome here, Jesus.  
i won't turn you away to a cattle stall.
you can have my room, Jesus.  
you can have it all."


Paige said...

just beautiful Jody!!! I sure miss you all!!!!

andrea said...


jennifer said...

What a sweet post! You have some amazing programs going on! How fun!! Love that Bella was keeping everyone in line! Enjoy the season!!
love, jen

myfourgems said...

oh friend, you brought me to tears once again (this old age of 40 is making me emotional, haha!) love you and can't wait to see you soon!!

DiJo said...

There's always room over here for you and your special crew!!! So thankful that we get to experience some of this special time together!!! A beautiful post Miss Jody! I will see you at chapel on Tuesday! :)

Hugs from our house!

jodymcnatt said...

you will be here SOON! happy birthday michele! love you.

jodymcnatt said...

thanks jen! merry christmas to you and your sweet family too! xoxo

jodymcnatt said...

thanks paige. miss you too! when are we all getting together again? merry christmas tennessee girl!

jodymcnatt said...

you are one of my biggest LEONS! =) very thankful for you and yours diana. see you tuesday!

Aus said...

Dude - in short - it sounds like you are "home"...kinda had a feeling it would turn out that way - because - well - y'all are simply like leon - "home" for our Father and his Son - and that makes the rest just kind of work out!

hugs - aus and co.