December Reflection by Luann Roberson My Christmas PlayList
John 1:14 So the Word became human and dwelt among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
Luke 1:78 Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to visit us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us into the path of peace.
Colossians 3:16 Sing songs and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
Like many these days, I've been overwhelmed by the plethora of social and news media offerings. Why do I feel obligated to read so much of it? I feel stuffed. Stuffed like when I've overeaten at a Thanksgiving meal, and food doesn't even taste like anything anymore. I've needed to stop taking in so much media. It's disorienting, and I'm not absorbing anything. Someone else’s need to write and post, or broadcast doesn’t obligate me to read it all to find comfort and direction.
Too much just makes me freeze. Overload. Paralysis. Like pouring more into an already full cup. So I STOP. In the fight/flight/freeze category, I’m a freezer.
I stop to sit with my thoughts and want to invite God to help sort it all out, perhaps to identify what it is I desire- what might God be inviting? What is important right now?
What is life-giving and meaningful for me and for you around Advent time, and then Christmas? I want to find God in the midst of what’s already there. As the times have been so unsettled, I have found stability and comfort in reflection on days of old. How did those God-seeking folks who came before me live? Shall we remember together?
Israel was awaiting the Messiah- for century upon century. Through good kings and bad. Corruption and lies both in their own culture and the culture around them. What did they do? How did they find a way of joyful life in the midst of strife? God gave them laws to provide structure and lifestyle. The prophets called them back to God. There were songs to sing- to remind them of their all-powerful, all-knowing, fiercely merciful, and loving God. They regularly called to mind what God had done in the past, kept the laws God provided, and taught their children God’s ways to pass down their way of life to the next generation. Sometimes they were better at ordering their lives around God than other times, and we are no different.
And then, as was promised, God put skin on and came to earth to live among them- to rescue and forgive them all; those created in God’s image- that means everyone. Some believed and followed; some did not. The promised Messiah was killed, yet rose from the dead, and returned to heaven after promising he would truly return.
And so, here we are; again, we wait. Just as the generations before us, we live in a fallen world with not much new under the sun, EXCEPT we know that the King of Kings came to earth. We have the choice to wait in hopeful anticipation of his return. Christ the King has come and will come again. Already and not yet!
As a grateful follower of Jesus Christ, I can live in humble gratitude for what was done for me. Ever aware of the need for God's grace, I can be intentional to call to mind the events of Scripture that affirm God’s presence. I can order my life around God’s commands, not to earn favor, but because they allow me to best love God and love people, which is God’s greatest commandment. I can pass down the ways of the faith to the next generation and sing the songs that bring glory to the triune God. Same practices, different millennium.
Speaking of songs- oh what a gift- MUSIC! Ahh, this is where I often find much comfort—melodies and lyrics from the past that bring secure reminders deep down into my soul. From the songbook of the Bible, the Psalms, I feel a sense of solidarity and community with David and other songwriters throughout the ages as they lament, remember, plead, praise, rejoice, seek refuge and peace, and pray to our God.
I’m surprised at how easy it is for me to mindlessly fly through the words to familiar Christmas carols from generations past. This year, I’ve taken a hymnal off the shelf and been reading through lyrics slowly and prayerfully. I’m finding beautiful biblical reminders that bring rest to my soul: love, peace (within the heart and among the people), freedom, gift, humility, HOPE.
I want to share with you some short portions of these songs, written by Christ-followers who came before us-centuries ago, millennia ago. I hope you’ll take your time as you read these. Perhaps you’ll want to look up and spend time with some of the songs in their entirety. These songwriters are passing down reminders of our Christian faith to us. It's a gift. A reminder of the greatest gift of all- our Savior, Jesus Christ. May these songs from generations past bring you a sense of peace, security, and invincible hope.
“Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand. Ponder nothing earthly minded, for with blessing in His hand, Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand…”
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence circa 465
“Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be, He is Alpha and Omega, He the source the ending be. Of the things that are, that have been and that future years shall see, evermore and evermore.”
Of the Father’s Love Begotten 4th and 13th centuries.
“…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…
Truly He taught us to love one another. His law is love and His gospel is peace…
Christ is the Lord! Oh, praise his name forever. His glory evermore shall be.”
O Holy Night 1847
“O hearken ye who long for peace, your troubled searching now may cease.
For at this cradle, you shall find God's healing grace for all mankind.”
O Hearken Ye 1953
“…O come, desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind; bid envy, strife and quarrels cease, fill all the world with heaven’s peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel 1710
“Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free; from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee. Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth Thou art. Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.”
Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus 1744
“Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown when Thou camest to earth for me, but in Bethlehem's home was there found no room for Thy holy nativity. Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee.”
Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne 1864
“He comes, a Child, from realms on high, He comes the heavens adoring; He comes to earth to love and die, a broken race restoring. Although the King of Kings is He, He comes in deep humility; His people to deliver, and reign in us forever.”
Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light 1641
"How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is giv’n. So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heav’n. No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.”
Oh Little Town of Bethlehem 1868
“Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the new-born King!”
Angels from the Realms of Glory 1816
"Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, ris’n with healing in His wings. 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. Hark! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the new-born King!"
Hark the Herald Angels Sing 1739
“…Then let us all with one accord sing praises to our heav’nly Lord, that hath made heav’n and earth of naught, and with His blood mankind hath bought. Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, born is the King of Israel!”
The First Noel 1823
“…The King of Kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone Him. This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing. Haste, haste to bring Him laud; the Babe, the son of Mary.”
What Child is This? 1865
“I wonder as I wander out under the sky, how Jesus the Savior did come for to die for poor, orn’ry people like you and like I; I wonder as I wander out under the sky.”
I Wonder as I Wander 1933
“…let every heart prepare him room…let earth receive her King!…and heaven and nature sing!”
Joy to the World 1719
“…Christ the Savior is born…Sleep in heavenly peace.”
Silent Night 1818
“Gloooooo-ooooo-oooooria In Excelsis Deo!”
Angels We Have Heard on High 1862
“King of Kings! And Lord of Lords! And He shall reign for ever and ever!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Halle- lu- jah!”
Handel’s Messiah 1741
Choose one or two songs and read them slowly and prayerfully from a hymnal or other source. Imagine the time period when the song was written, alongside our current season in time.
What does the song you spent time with bring up in you that you might like to offer as prayer to God?
Which of the Christmas carols/hymns resonated most with you? Why?
Will any of these songs make a difference in how you experience the Advent/Christmas season this year?
I would love to hear back from you. Which phrases from Christmas songs are most meaningful to you? firstname.lastname@example.org I will be glad to hear from you!