Strength In Numbers

December 14, 2019
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Listen while you read: "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen"1 (Lyrics)

Do you live in or near a city where you can enjoy the annual holiday tradition, Tuba Christmas? Tuba Christmas was conceived in 1974 by a tuba player as a tribute to his teacher and mentor. The very first Tuba Christmas was held at the ice-skating rink at New York City's Rockefeller Center, and it was not an easy task to convince Rockefeller Center to let hundreds of tubas play on the ice rink! This holiday tradition, featuring varied members of the tuba family, has since spread to over 200 cities around the world.

My own city of Portland, Oregon, USA, has embraced this annual holiday event. On this chilly Saturday afternoon, more than 200 tuba players ranging in age from 8 to 80 are expected to perform in the concert at our downtown's Pioneer Courthouse Square. Last December, one of these players — nearly obscured by her huge horn — was my petite 17-year-old granddaughter, Mia. It was her first year to participate, but she is eagerly anticipating this year's Christmas concert today.

Last year, as I stood shivering in the cold, listening to these hardy, exuberant musicians, it struck me that this was their moment to shine. Most concert bands have only one or two tuba players — in contrast to flocks of flutes, tons of trumpets, scads of saxophones, and crowds of clarinets! The tuba is often pushed to the very back of the stage, and though it truly helps to support the whole orchestra, it is rarely featured and is definitely not the star of the show.

This means that everything is flipped on its head when an entire performance is built exclusively on the tuba family. What a thrill it must be for these players who may be toiling away in near anonymity in their own band to suddenly be surrounded by so many others just like them!

Many of us may feel quite alone as the only believer in our own family or as one of only a handful of the faithful in our neighbourhood or community. A major purpose of our churches is to provide a place where believers can meet together to support and encourage each other. It can be such an encouragement to join with hundreds or thousands of other believers at large Christian events. I will never forget the thrill and encouragement of attending a Billy Graham Crusade, seeing thousands of others around me also praising God and listening to His Word.

God Himself encouraged the weary, despondent prophet Elijah with the comforting word that he was not alone in his love and service for the Almighty:

1 Kings 19:18 – Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel — all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him. (NIV)

We can also take hope and courage in knowing that we are not the only ones in our world who love and serve our Saviour.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, please give us strength and courage in knowing that You honour and bless those who faithfully trust in You. Remind us that we are not alone in our love for You. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Gail Lundquist <>
Beaverton, Oregon, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    What a fun surprise I had waiting for me yesterday morning. Because I use my cell phone as my alarm, checking my overnight emails and messages is often one of the first things I do when I first wake up. When I woke up yesterday morning, it was first of all with excitement in looking forward to going downtown for Tuba Christmas at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Then as I opened my phone, I saw a batch of emails commenting on my devotional that had just been posted that morning. I knew that this devotional telling about Tuba Christmas would be appearing sometime in the middle of the month, but hadn’t checked the calendar to note that it would be posted on Tuba Christmas Saturday! This year’s Tuba Christmas was even bigger than last year’s, with nearly 300 players! Below are photos of yesterday’s event, showing just a portion of the 300 members of the group and my granddaughter Mia holding her tuba — with some friends. My grandson Ryan is the tall handsome blond right behind Mia.

    A great reminder, Gail.

    Yes, Gail, it is a great comfort and blessing to gather with other believers.

    Well written. I have shared with my kids who played in bands and will really appreciate your words. Enjoy this advent season.

    Thanks for sharing! Lovely thought! Yes, we are NOT alone, for which we give our Lord grateful thanks.

    Thank you. Is it possible that the performance could be videotaped and available on Daily Devotional?

    Gail, thank you for sharing this devotional… so meaningful for me since my dear departed husband proudly played the tuba in his high school band. Blessings.

    Dear Gail.
    Thank you so much for your encouraging words. They mean a lot to me.
    Merry Christmas to you and your entire family.

    Greetings Gail,
    Thank you for writing. Yes, we are so blessed and encouraged when we are surrounded by those who know and trust in the Lord. He is ever there to shower us with His love and care.
    Blessings and may you continue to enjoy what sounds like a beautiful happening, “Tuba Christmas”.

    Hi Gail,
    Our son was a tuba player until the football coach found out he could kick the football a pretty long distance! I actually think he was better at kicking the football!
    In our small county’s, 18,000, we have had a Tuba Christmas as part of our Norwegian Country Christmas celebration.
    Blessings to you.

    O dear Gail! I usually can tell within the first few sentences whether or not this is you! It is a combination of research, clarity, usually some well-chosen word play (like the smile-worthy list of ‘S’ instruments and ‘F’ instruments and so forth), great care for the right adjectives and the unusual take on an otherwise well-worn topic.
    Yes, we know we are in a great cloud of witnesses, that we are just one among so many believers, but we need to have the old, old story told us again. The great hymn that reminds us how we hunger and thirst to hear THE word. I do LOVE the way you write, so genuinely inspired that it just shakes from concept to completion, all the spiritual bounce and beyond that rock and roll only gives lip service to. Hardy words! So glad you keep writing and I shall keep reading.


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