Scott Jones – Gilbert Campus Pastor
Christmas is officially upon us. And that means Christmas music. Now let’s just admit that the world can be divided into two types of people: people who love Christmas music and people, well, who don’t love God. 🙂
Music is such a powerful medium. Music and lyrics woven together form this passionate experience that move us―to imagine, to dream, to rise up, to hope, to love. And though we all have our favorite genre―Blues, Blue Grass, Classical, Country, Disco, Hip hop, Jazz, R&B, Rap, Reggae, Salsa (and every sub-category for each)―it’s been proven which is the best. And that would be Classic Rock. Haters stop right there.
Whatever your favorite, music speaks to us and takes us back to a time and place filled with people, memories and experiences. Put your iPod on shuffle and it will eventually come across a song that will pinpoint a time or place that you associate with that song.
- a day at the beach in high school with your best friends
- the birth of your first child
- a date with a girl you wished would never end
- a date with a guy you thought would never end
Boston’s “Hitch a Ride” reminds me of driving to work at Disney World in 1977 with Richard Rosetta in his orange Datsun pick up truck. Dan Folgerberg’s “Longer” takes me back to 1990 at Turtle Creek in Dallas, Texas when I sang it to Donita before I asked her to marry me. (Thankfully it wasn’t my voice she fell in love with.)
Music has a way of penetrating the human heart and soul that the spoken word alone cannot do. It’s as if a Creator God made us for song―like deep down within each of us is a longing to connect with something that is true about us and God and the world we live in. Maybe even the world to come! Johann Sebastian Bach once said,
The final aim and reason of all music is nothing other than the glorification of God and the refreshment of the spirit.
Or if you prefer a more contemporary, less refined perspective from Frank Zappa, “Music is the only religion that delivers the goods.” This is what Christmas music should do. It should put us in touch with our Creator God. It should bring us into harmony with the rest of God’s creation.
There’s an article on the European Space Agency website entitled Moving to the Rhythm of the Sun that states “scientists from the Ulysses mission have proven that sounds generated deep inside the Sun cause the Earth to shake and vibrate in sympathy. They have found that Earth’s magnetic field, atmosphere and terrestrial systems, all take part in this cosmic sing-along. Team members presented evidence that proves that earth moves to the rhythm of the Sun.”
It appears that we have a musical God who is communicating with all of creation in his plan to bring all things back into harmony with himself because ― and don’t hate if this next line is too cheesy ― he wants the people of earth to move to the rhythm of the Son.
In music, there’s this idea of consonance and dissonance. There are certain sounds or chords that sound so rich and harmonious to us, and we like them. And there are dissonant sounds that feel unresolved. When there’s unresolved dissonance in music, and it ends, we don’t like it. If it ends like that it just sounds off. We want some kind of resolution.
Back to Bach. There’s a story that one time his wife was playing the harpsichord. He was in bed and she was in the music room. She kept playing this unresolved chord, an unresolved seventh, and it bothered him so much, he couldn’t sleep. He finally got up out of bed, went to the music room, sat down at the harpsichord, and played the appropriate resolved chord so he could sleep.
This is the story of Christmas. There is dissonance. There is disharmony. Something is off with God’s world. There’s sin. There’s violence. There’s lost people. God can’t tolerate that. It keeps him up at night. It produces dissonance in the heart of God. The song that God was singing about his love for humanity was unfinished.
And the final note that God played was the arrival of his Son.
This arrival or Advent as known to some brought with it the first Christmas music ― songs sung by key players in the Christmas Story.
- Mary, the mother of Jesus sang, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49)
- Zechariah, the priest, sang, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), (Luke 1:68-70)
- Gabriel and the heavenly hosts sang, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:10-14)
Each of these songs inspired by God take us back to a time and place where God was resolving the dissonance on earth, breaking the silence that existed between heaven and earth when he took on flesh and blood and was born to a virgin named Mary. God became man. God came to earth. And the music of his arrival was everywhere!
What is your song this Christmas?
Maybe it’s a song of LOVE for what God has done for you. Maybe it’s a song of JOY for something new in your life. Maybe it’s a song of PEACE in the midst of a trial. Maybe it’s a song of HOPE as you trust God and look toward the future. Whatever your song, let it bring you back to a time and place where you remember your Savior and move you forward as you live with purpose for him.