My intentions for writing about several of my favorite Christmas lyrics went the way of so many good bloggy intentions. [Disappeared into a fog of real life.] But it’s not too late! Christmas hasn’t passed yet. I loved hearing from so many of you about your favorite Christmas lyrics. I’m almost out of time, so I need to cut to the chase. To the Christmas lyrics that, for me, are the creme de la creme. I know you know it.
My favorite theme of Christmas and the songs we sing is the reminder of how God’s people were LONGING for a Messiah. They loved God, and tried to obey His law, but pre-Jesus faith was about a God who was big and powerful. If I may risk sounding blasphemous, it was not a personal faith. In order to hear God’s word or be near Him, the Hebrew people had to go to the temple or tabernacle. Only certain religious professionals were allowed to enter the presence of God, by going past an insanely thick veil into the Holy of Holies.
They knew in their deepest beings that something was missing. Whether they had a name for Satan or not, they knew his work in their lives and their people. Their lives were complicated, messy and empty, and they were yearning for something…MORE. For generations they had been promised a Messiah, a God who would be WITH them. Not apart from them, but living in their midst, looking in their eyes, feeling their pain, touching their skin.
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.
I just…I can’t get over the fact that the birth of this baby, this GOD baby, changed EVERYTHING. I mean EVERYTHING. Every human on this planet is created with a PINING for our Creator. And not just His existence, but His PRESENCE. Of course the real work for the Kingdom began years later, when he could walk and didn’t need his diaper changed. But that’s part of what created the “thrill of hope.” In hindsight, we can look back at that Silent Night in the Little Town of Bethlehem (see what I did there?) and our hearts should beat a little faster, like a brilliant foreshadowing in the most thrilling novel ever.
This birth of Jesus is full of joy and excitement, because it is unlike any other birth in history. The Hebrew people didn’t fully appreciate what was happening when this child was born, but we have the unique privilege of understanding. We celebrate his birth because it made possible his death and resurrection, which is the true power of His gospel. His death, when THAT VEIL that separated all the people from God, was RIPPED IN TWO from top to bottom. The symbolism of that is one of the most powerful in all of Scripture. There is no longer and separation between God and His people. He is more personal than we could ever fathom.
THIS manger situation that has become rather cliche was truly, truly the beginning of a new and glorious morning, where God is not a mythical feature holding a gavel in the sky, but He in our midst, every minute of every day. Jesus did not remain on the earth in physical form, but the Holy Spirit came to stay. We can talk to him like we talk to a loving father, a cherished friend and a perfect Savior. AND HE HEARS US. If any of us thinks that we are not living in sin and error as much as the pre-Jesus believers, then we are fooling ourselves. We should be pining for Emmanuel, God with us. We should be crying out, FALLING on our knees. He has appeared, and even though we are not able to see him with our eyes, those of us who have experienced him with our hearts should be able to truly proclaim that our souls feel the worth of that holy night.