Friday, December 20, 2013

Every Hymn is a Christmas Carol

You hear it in the mall and on the radio. You sing it at church. Even our neighbor's musical deer yard art includes a lovely rendition in its playlist: "Shepherds we have heard on high, sweetly singing o'er the plains..." It's a Christmas carol, heralding the birth of the Savior. Shepherds We Have Heard on High and dozens of other hymns and classical pieces about the coming of the newborn King receive top billing during the Christmas season, but as soon as the tree comes down and the decorations are stowed away for another eleven months, the Christmas music gives way to a broader range of other, more generic church music.

But aren't all hymns, after all, Christmas carols?

If they exalt Jesus Christ, if they speak of the love of the Heavenly Father, if they give glory to the Holy Spirit (whose role in this world is to remind us of Jesus), if they encourage us in our faith and equip us to stand firm, then they assume the virgin birth of a boy-child, fully human and fully divine, the Son of God who laid aside the glory that he enjoyed with the Father to be made one of us. The hymns of the church find their foundation in this most amazing moment in history, when God's own Son, Jesus, took on himself the form of a servant, entered our world, and lived in obedience to his Father, making it possible for us to be made right with God and experience life eternal! There is not a hymn that we sing that is not born from the truth of the incarnation.

All our hymns point us to the babe in the manger. And do not all our Christmas carols point us to the gospel story? As we sing them do they not call us to remember the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, and challenge us to walk worthy of our calling as children of God in this world?

As you listen to these hymns, I challenge you to see both Baby Jesus and King Jesus in the story they tell. Let their truth draw you to him whose birth we celebrate. Rejoice! Emmanuel has come!

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