I love Christmas music. Each year I anxiously await that arbitrary date I’ve set when I’m “allowed” to listen to it. I pretend to complain about how early stores play Christmas music but secretly I’m thrilled when I walk into a store mid-October and they are blaring Michael Bublé’s “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas…”
“Jingle Bell Rock” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” are some of my favorite songs to dance to while making Christmas cookies. Yet it’s the classic hymns that bring me to my knees in awe and worship. All of the stress and distraction over gift-buying, food-making and people-pleasing seems to melt away when I slow down enough to listen to the words of those century old hymns. One of my favorite hymns is “O Holy Night” and when you let the words sink in, you’ll understand why:
O Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees O hear the angels voices.
O night divine O night when Christ was born
O night divine, O night, O night divine.
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
O night divine, O night, O night divine
So powerful, right? The writer did an incredible job putting into words the worship, thankfulness, joy, praise and adoration that should flow from our lips when we take some time to rejoice over what God has done for us. The King of Kings became a small, helpless baby and humbled himself so that we might be saved:
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:6-8
The birth of Jesus shows us that God didn’t save us from a distance. He chose to step into our crazy mess and save us in an intimate, tangible way. Like the hymn says, when he appeared “the soul felt its worth.” Our value is rooted in the very fact that God found us priceless enough to set us free by drawing closer to us.
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23
The wise men who came to visit Jesus as a baby understood the magnitude of what God had just done. When they saw Jesus they “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy…and they fell down and worshiped him.” Matthew 2:10-11. They understood that God was now stepping into their story unlike ever before and their souls trembled with joy at the thought.
Christmas is about so much more than what this world has turned it into. With a “thrill of hope” it marks the beginning of our story of salvation. This year, let’s not get wrapped up in what the world tells us Christmas should look like. This year, let’s rejoice exceedingly with great joy at the birth of Christ; let’s focus on and adore Jesus and tune everything else out.