Clapping Aspen

(For T.S. Poetry’s theme for June: Trees. Visit the Every Day Poems and T.S. Poetry Facebook pages for more!)

clapping aspen in the wind

In the rising wind of a coming dust storm
a mini-stand of aspen planted between

the heron pond and the stucco home
made some noise; they say it’s

“quaking.” But that name makes one
think of timid fear. Listen like

a musician, with the psalter’s ear,
and hear, instead, the sound of applause.

For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field
shall clap their hands.
(Isaiah 55:12)


How to Sing Christmas Carols

“Glorious, now, behold Him arise!
King and God and Sacrifice!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!”

We hear it every Christmas—praises, singing, lifting up His holy name.

“O Come let us adore Him,
Christ, the Lord!”

From blended voices in the choir loft, beautiful music reaches every corner of the sanctuary and halls. During Christmas in particular, the celebration seems incomplete without worshipful songs. Bows on string instruments pull their parts, and the orchestra bows together in the genuflection of notes and dynamics and a perfect execution of Handel’s “Messiah.”

In our home, before lighting Advent candles for four Sundays before Christmas, we sing.

As the music multiplies during this holiday, I consider a prophet’s words:

“Then I will purify the speech of all people,
so that everyone can worship the LORD together.”

– Zephaniah 3:9

If our speech is not pure—if we are not living Ephesians 4:29, how can we worship the Lord together?

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

– Ephesians 4:29

We need pure speech for corporate worship.

In all my Christmas worship, with songs coming from our lips, our stereo, our church choir and my own voice, I must consider:

How is my speech?

How do I speak? Would the Lord call it pure?

What is my tone of voice when I tell the children to do their chores? Do I choose good, pure words when I try to disentangle a miscommunication with my husband or a friend? When I hang up the phone after an annoying conversation, what are my words behind the caller’s back? After a worship service, how do I speak with my brothers and sisters in these pews—the same people with whom I sang in unison, “He rules the world with truth and grace” and other God-exalting carols?

Father, as I worship this Christmas, may I also speak with purity, grace, encouragement and every word pleasing to You.


(This week Ann Voskamp hosts a community of those who share about The Advent Practice of Preparation. Click on the Holy Experience badge below to read more community posts on Preparation!)

(Also linking with Bonnie Gray this week. Click on the FaithBarista badge below to read more community posts on Unwrapping Jesus!)


Singing with Yasuko

Yasuko came like a song from across the Pacific. On the road coming out of the airport, she saw the view of the Rocky Mountain Front Range and worshiped in song, declaring her hosanna to the One who made the mountains. As I turned northward onto Powers Boulevard, Yasuko sang right there in the passenger seat. What else could she do, this woman who exudes praise?

We arrived at my home. Before her feet crossed the threshold I heard her say behind me, “God bless this home.” I received the blessing.

She brought, instead of phone or iPod, sheets and sheets of worship music in her red carry-on. (This woman carries worship wherever she goes.) I looked at the sheets. Below the chords were lyrics in English—and lyrics in Japanese! I learned some Japanese in college. Ever since I heard of Yasuko, I wanted to sing with her. Could this be the day?

She sat at the piano. I picked up the guitar, and we began.

sisters singing

“Father of lights . . .”

The harmonies came easily as we sang.

. . . You delight . . .

We sound good together, I thought, and I think God thought so, too, for ours were harmonized voices bound by the same song.

“. . . in Your children . . .” Yasuko and I, two of His children, felt His delight.

We sang of His good and perfect gifts. Hungry and weary, we sang of trusting in and waiting for God. We sang of His steady and unchanging love, first a verse in my language, then a verse in hers.

But when we got to the chorus, the Hallelujahs were the same.

Praise needs no translation. It is our common language. The Hallelujahs are always the same.

Praise the LORD, all nations;
Laud Him, all peoples!
(Psalm 117:1)

This week Bonnie Gray hosts a community of those who share about a gift we’ve received from God lately. Click on the Faith Barista badge below to read more about gifts from God!


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