Thursday, December 25, 2014

Carols That Communicate

With this post being scheduled to appear on Christmas Day, I’m wanting to say, “If you’re reading this on Christmas, don’t you have something better to do?” But perhaps you’ve unwrapped the gifts, had a nice meal, enjoyed visiting with family and friends, and are choosing to unwind in front of your computer, tablet or smartphone. (Wow, how things have changed since I was a boy!)

Anyway, in the event someone has a few spare minutes to visit websites and blogs and such, and this is one of your brief stops, I wanted to ask a question: What’s your favorite Christmas carol?

One of mine has always been “Silent Night,” written in 1818 by Franz Gruber. Literally an oldie but a goodie. I especially remember hearing it in the Hungarian Reformed Church I attended as a boy, sung simultaneously in English and Hungarian. What a great memory.

On their Christmas album, the vocal group
Pentatonix sings "Mary Did You Know."
You might also be partial to songs like “The First Noel,” “Away in a Manger,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” or “Deck the Halls,” all Christmas classics. Or you might prefer the more generic tunes like “The Christmas Song” (who doesn’t like chestnuts roasting on an open fire?), “Jingle Bells,” “White Christmas” (especially the Bing Crosby rendition), “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” or even “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Or the unforgettable, “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” written by Randy Brooks and performed by Elmo and Patsy.

In recent years I’ve adopted a new favorite: “Mary Did You Know,” written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene. It’s really a artfully conceived tune, using an economy of words to tell the story of Christ from the crèche (the familiar Nativity scene) to the Cross. Most recently a singing group called Pentatonix has made a wonderful recording of it, one I’ve been enjoying throughout this Christmas season.

Throughout the song, Mary – the human mother of the Christ Child – is asked a series of questions, ones like “Mary did you know that your baby boy will some day walk on water?...that your baby boy has come to make you new?”

In an amazing note of irony, “Mary Did You Know” makes the statement, “This child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you.” Then it adds, “And when you kiss your little baby, you’ve kissed the face of God.” Wondrous, almost imponderable truths for those of us who profess to be followers of Jesus, God incarnate.

I especially like the final verse:
“Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am.”

Each of these concepts is worth far more than a fleeting thought. Because as I wrote in my earlier post, without the Cross and what it represents in terms of God’s love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and final verdict on sin, we’d have no reason to celebrate Christmas or join in singing cherished Christmas carols.

But because of these events – true, historically documented events – we can trust in the declaration from the Scriptures that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:1,14).

So once again may I wish you, not “happy holidays” (although I wish you that, too), but Merry Christmas!

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