Monday, December 22, 2008

Something to Sing About

Volume 1, Number 30
December 11, 2006

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”( Luke 2:13-14)[1]

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” (Rev 4:11)

I am a musician of sorts, which predisposes me to a certain affinity to most kinds of music. Being that I have a personal relationship with Christ, I am especially partial to Christian music whether it be traditional, contemporary, liturgical or gospel. But of all the music that I enjoy, I must admit that I like Christmas music best of all. I like the happy tunes of “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Santa Claus is coming to Town” and “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer.” I delight in the schmaltzy, mushy, romantic tunes like “Let It Snow,” “White Christmas” and “Blue Christmas.” But the songs that really stir my heart strings are the Christian Christmas carols.
Christmas carols are so densely packed with solid theology that they make an excellent study in themselves. “What Child Is This” sings of God’s humiliation in coming into the world in the form of a helpless baby born in the “mean estate” of a stable and yet the line reads, “for sinners here the silent Word is pleading.” That is the Christmas message! And as that defenseless babe “on Mary’s lap is sleeping” another contemporary carol asks “Mary, did you know that this child that you delivered will soon deliver you? Did you know that your baby boy once walked where angels trod? Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation and that one day He will rule the nations?”[2] Still another contemporary carol sees Jesus through the eyes of Mary as she asks, “Do You wonder as You watch my face, if a wiser one should have had my place?”[3] Can you imagine the overwhelming responsibility of raising the Son of God – the God-Man? How can the human mind embrace the concept that the Almighty God transformed Himself into a soft little bundle of flabby flesh needing to be carried, nursed and have His diapers changed. That’s incredible! God did that for you and me! Does that humble you to think of what God has done for you? It does me.
One of my very favorite carols is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing;” translated into modern English: “Listen! The News Messengers Sing.” The first verse announces the Good News that the rift between God and Man has been repaired: “God and sinners reconciled.” If the nations could only get it, they would rise and “join the triumph of the skies.” Listen to the second verse:

Christ, by highest heav’n adored.
Christ, the everlasting Lord.
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the God-head see,
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus our Immanuel [“God with us”]

Before his condensation, Jesus was worshiped by the angels of heaven. He is the eternal, everlasting Lord.[4] Here was God, veiled, disguised in human flesh, happy to come to live with humanity as a human. He is truly Immanuel – God with us! Halleluiah! The third verse reminds us that He is the heaven-born (not of earth) Prince of Peace. He brings Light – Jesus said, “I am the Light of the World”[5]—and life – Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life”[6] and He has risen[7] with healing in His wings. The Bible tells us that “Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” (Phil 2:5-7) So, “Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” If that does not just thrill your soul, you just need to get saved!
As you sing the wonderful carols of Christmas – not those cute or sentimental secular Christmas tunes – I mean the real carols that put the CHRIST into CHRISTmas, take time to pay attention to the lyrics and consider the incomparable Gift that God has so freely given. If you know Jesus as I do, we, more than anyone really have something to sing about.

Joy to the world! The Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love.[8]

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are taken from THE NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE UPDATE. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995, by The Lockman Foundation.
[2] Green, Buddy, Mark Lowry, “Mary Did You Know?”
[3] Grant, Amy, “Breath of Heaven”
[4] John 1:1
[5] John 8:12
[6] John 11:25
[7] Matthew 28:6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:6
[8] Watts, Isaac (1674-1748), “Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come,” Stanza 2 & 4, The Baptist Hymnal (Convention Press, Nashville, 1991), Hymn 87.

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