Mr. Walker’s Miracle, a Christmas Story, Part 5

Mr. Walker’s Miracle (A Christmas Story)

Mr. Walker’s Miracle (A Christmas Story) Part 2

Mr. Walker’s Miracle (A Christmas Story) Part 3

Mr. Walker’s Miracle, a Christmas Story, Part 4

The sights and sounds of the sanctuary were exciting and new, yet somehow familiar to Liz: the noise of the growing crowd, the butterflies in the stomach, the impatience to get started. Sean had been right in predicting a packed house; with the believers who had come to worship, the music lovers that had come to hear Handel, and the curious who had come to see the new sanctuary, it was obvious that every seat would be taken. The excited conversation, blended with the orchestra’s tuning up, gave an air of expectancy. In the dim light a myriad of candles flickered. The smell of wax mingled with that of fresh pine and perfume. Spruced up youth, some in their fathers’ suits and ties, stood at each doorway, giving out programs, searching the balcony for empty seats, and asking parties if they could please move down to make room for a few more.

As the choir came in single file and began filling the platform, voices were hushed, and houselights faded. Orchestra members ceased their warmups, and a few audience members cleared their throats. Beverly wheeled her husband to the music stand at the front, and a low murmur rippled through the crowd. As she positioned the wheelchair, something seemed to make her hesitate. For a moment the two of them looked into each other’s eyes, smiling as if to say, “We made it!” There was visible love between them that made them almost enviable, in spite of the obvious troubles they had been through. Before taking her place with the coir, Beverly kissed her husband, and though it wasn’t a long, drawn-out kiss, it seemed somehow sacred, like the culmination of a wedding ceremony. Liz felt a twinge of fear. Was she kissing him good-bye?

From the first note there was something about the way Mr. Walker conducted that night that was different. The fire and passion was still there, and he seemed to be drinking in every moment as though savoring a rare delicacy. This was to be expected, of course. Everyone involved felt the same way; how much more the one for whom it had been a life-long dream?

Yet there was something else about him that Liz noticed, and she wondered whether anyone else could see it. Mr. Walker seemed to know something that the others didn’t, and Liz didn’t want to think about what that might be.

Gordon’s Comfort Ye My People was more exquisite than ever, and though half the choir held its breath, nothing went awry this time.

For Unto Us a Child is Born was for Liz was like finding the door of heaven ajar and peering in.

And His name shall be called … Wonderful … Counselor … The Might God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!”

She felt as if she had sprouted wings and could take off at any moment. Mr. Walker’s face reflected the same ecstasy; his eyes seemed to behold some unspoken wonders, and at times they had an unexplained intensity.

When Beverly sang I Know that My Redeemer Liveth, there a profound sense of peace and sacredness that was felt by every soul in the place. Liz marveled that Beverly could continue to sing with such a steady, clear voice; she knew that had she herself been the one singing, she would have been blubbering through most of it.

A few songs later, Liz felt a thrill rush through her as she realized the Hallelujah Chorus was next. This was the part where the composer had seen “all of Heaven … and the great God!” She had no doubt that it was possible for that entire congregation of thousands – believer and unbeliever alike – to gaze upon God’s face if He willed it. And why wouldn’t He?

She was almost too breathless to sing when the orchestra began the famous melody, and the mass of people stood to their feet according to the royal tradition. It seemed cruelly ironic that the only one not standing was the one for whom it meant the most.

The choir had never sounded so magnificent; they were singing their hearts out for their Messiah, and for Mr. Walker. They were giving him his Christmas gift, and one could tell by his face that it was the finest he had ever received.

HAA -- LLELUIA! HAA -- LELUIA!!
HALLELUIA! HALLELUIA! HALLE -- LUIA!"

The words echoed like a blessing on the new sanctuary and everyone in it.

"For the Lord God Ominpotent reigneth!"

The words seemed to echo Mr. Walker’s words, “Let God be God!” And the “Halleluiah’s” that followed thundered through the hall, the kettledrums booming for emphasis. The intensity in Mr. Walker’s face increased, and he conducted as though fighting some kind of battle that raged within him. Liz couldn’t tell whether he was winning or losing. When they sang

“And He shall reign forever and ever!”

there was a look of victory on his face, and the words “Let God be God” echoed in her heart. Liz was so busy watching Mr. Walker’s expressions that she nearly forgot to turn the pages of her score, and she found it difficult to keep up.

Mr. Walker didn’t have to try to keep up; he didn’t need a score. The music was in his blood, and he pursued it relentlessly, with a look of fervent determination on his face.

As the song built to its climax, there was suddenly something different about his expression. It had a wide-eyed quality about it, a look of acute surprise that seemed to overwhelm him. Liz couldn’t tell if it was a good surprise or a bad one, and that frightened her, especially considering the man’s words to his singers earlier.

(to be continued…)

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