Monday, December 2, 2013

Hark! The Joyful Christians Sing!

Christmas Hymns: A Call for Deeper Reflection

With the Christmas season now in full bloom around us, it is almost impossible to go anywhere where there are not Christmas carols playing.  While the familiar refrains bring a certain joy and nostalgia they also bring with them the danger of everything that is overly familiar: complacency.  I often marvel during the Christmas season how people who’s worldview and theology are so flagrantly non-Christians can sing such powerful words.  It is no less baffling that Christians can sing the great Christmas hymns in such a routine manner as to be unaffected by their message.  From one who is a lover of both theology and music, this ought not to be.  So in the following days I hope to remedy this complacency by rekindling your love for the hymns of Christ’s Incarnation.  Not to revive the nostalgia, but to revive a working knowledge that God was manifest in the flesh for us!  This Christmas season I will be posting reflections from Christmas hymns that provide for us perhaps the most full-orbed theology in any one genre of music.  For now consider why Christmas hymns are important:

1) They tell the story of the single most important event in history.

Christmas hymns tell the story of God’s invasion of time and space at the perfect time to redeem what is rightfully His.  In contradiction to the mythical gods of  folk lore who risked nothing, God put everything on the line in sending His Son and won the battle over sin, death, and Hell.  No other event in history matters if this one event did not happen.

2) They celebrate the miraculous.

A virgin who gave birth to an infant who was literally the Son of God, and yet her own flesh and blood by Divine conception!  That above everything else in the world qualifies as a miracle.  Christmas hymns celebrate God’s sovereignty over nature and the time God threw all the rules of biology out the window to become what we are so that we might become what He is and we are not.

3) They join us to the activity of Heaven.

Have you ever wanted to sing like an angel?  Then sing Christmas hymns!  Both the account of Christ’s birth and the glimpse into the future of Heaven provided in the Book of Revelation show us that angels are engaged in the singing of hymns that magnify the work of God in Christ.  Is there any greater song to join in?  I think not! 

4) They infuse us with the hope of the Gospel.

Joy to the world!  The Lord has come!”  If that does engender hope, I do not what will.  And yet it is not an abstract hope, for it is fundamentally the hope that comes from knowing that God has kept and will keep His promises.  The Gospel is God’s Good News, and there is not greater good news than the reality that God has come near in His Son.  He has made great promises, and greater than the promises is His keeping of them.

5) They link the pain of humanity to the exalted comfort of Deity.

Jesus came not as an untouchable emanation of God, he came as a human being made under the infirmities of a fallen world (Gal. 4:4-5) so that He would know every sting and temptation of human experience (Heb.4:15-16).  We do not trust, serve or worship a God Who does not relate, we have a God Who came precisely so that He could relate and yet rise above for our comfort!

And for many other reasons it is imperative that we not only enjoy the hymns of Christmas, but that we understand them as well.  Christmas will become a richer experience for you and me if we will take the time to understand what it is that we sing about.

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