In 2001, I joined the group as a first-time mom of a 2 year old and have been serving or helping support them in some way since then. Last year, I was their Mentor Mom. This year, I'm a soloist at brunch. Not quite the same, is it? But, there is a time and season for everything, and the level of my involvement continues to change.
When the leadership--sweet devoted moms with whom I've shared all kinds of moments--approached me about performing, I said, "Yes! Can't say no to MOPS!" But, when it came time to find something to play, that was when things got challenging. I didn't have much time to decide, as I needed time to rehearse, to find an accompanist and to sub for two upcoming bell choir concerts (which is a challenge in itself when you're directing).
I had it on my heart to play "I'll Be Home for Christmas." Didn't know why. Always liked the flow of the song and had some nice piano music that would work well as accompaniment. But, what else? I usually play a medley, because I like to tie in a contemporary Christian song with the Christmas music--it sends the message that Christ goes beyond Christmas.
I also had some dear friends on my heart--two mothers of preschoolers who passed away this year after long and incredibly strong fights against some tough cancers. Neither one was in the MOPS group (Miche actually coordinated MOPS groups for the entire Richmond area), but both had ties to the people in the group, which suddenly made the music all that more personal. They are both home for Christmas in the most real sense of the phrase.
So, in the end, I had two secular Christmas songs wrapping a favorite Christian song of my friend Kate ("Come to Jesus"). In introducing the medley, I reminded the group that this is a season filled with lots of emotions. To deny the losses and what we feel is to deny the opportunity for healing and wholeness. "Israel's strength and consolation," as we sing in "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus" is not just the One who came and will come again, but the One who is here now, to comfort and encourage us wherever we are.
Not without some "grace notes" but with lots of heart, here's my medley. Special thanks to Chatty Kelly for, again, being the videographer, and to Jon, Minister of Worship and Arts at my church, for his supportive and gracious accompaniment!
For Kate and Miche....