This past Sunday I had the privilege of leading the singing at my home church. At Christmas time there’s sometimes a tension between choosing to sing songs that are “comfortably Christmasy” or songs that help people glory in the miracle of God becoming man. So here’s what we went with:
- Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
- Glory be to God free mp3 download (from the Savior CD)
- Emmanuel, Emmanuel (from the Savior CD)
- What Child is This?
- Before the Throne of God Above
We started with Hark! the Herald Angels sing because it’s one of the most theologically rich Christmas carols we sing. After that, I shared that there are many things to love about Christmas – carols, food, exchanging gifts, gathering with family and friends. But nothing will bring us more joy or thrill our hearts more than meditating on the nature and purpose of the baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.
I then recited some of the words to the song we were about to sing – Glory be to God – an updated version of a Charles Wesley hymn. I wanted to make sure that we didn’t sing profound truths without realizing what we were singing…
God comes down before our eyes…
God invisible appears…
He has come who cannot change…
Being’s source begins to be…
We went from there straight into Mark Altrogge’s song, Emmanuel, Emmanuel. Another song filled with theological reflection on the Incarnation. This is verse 3:
You who with a word created
Sun and moon and seas and sand
Lay there sleeping in a manger
Cradled by Your mother’s hand
You who made the mighty forests
Would lie down upon a tree
Fastened there with nails for sinners
Would bleed and die to set us free
After that song, a woman from the congregation shared a prophetic impression that there were people there who lacked peace in the midst of a joyous season. She then read from Ps. 131. Knowing there were probably a lot of guests that morning, I explained what was going on and followed that with a spontaneous song. You can listen to my explanation and the song here.
After I prayed we sang What Child is This, another song that directs our attention to why Christ came:
Nails, spear shall pierce him through
The cross be borne for me, for you
We ended with Before the Throne of God Above, an old hymn set to music by Vikki Cook that we’ve been memorizing as a church. Before we sang it, I explained what we were doing, and how appropriate it was to remember that the baby Jesus we remember at Christmas is now the risen and ascended Savior who is interceding for those he redeemed.
Throughout the morning I tried to help us remember that CHRIST is the meaning of Christmas. I was grateful that we don’t have to sing songs that simply have a Christmas “sound” without the substance. There simply is nothing more amazing than God becoming man to save us from the just penalty for our sins. Amazing grace that only grows more amazing with each passing year.
I pray that in the midst of a world filled with upheaval, economic woes, terrorism, hatred, immorality, and pride, you would experience the peace and joy of knowing Jesus as the compassionate, merciful, risen, and reigning Savior.