Have you noticed the way that Christmas music blurs the line between the sacred and the secular? When December rolls around it is not at all uncommon to hear Bing Crosby crooning classics like “White Christmas” or “I’ll be Home for Christmas” on Christian radio stations, and over on secular stations all kinds of artists belt out their own take on tunes that proclaim the birth of Christ and the glorious message of “Joy to the World, the Lord has come!” I like that about Christmas music, yet when the strains of “Silent Night” wind their way through the hustle and bustle of Target shoppers, it is pretty easy to miss the majesty of the message.
Tim Keller, in his book Hidden Christmas, makes repeated references to the lyrics of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” Those words, written long ago by the renowned hymn writer Charles Wesley, are a treasure trove of spiritual truth. They breathe deep of the glory of God, the miracle of God incarnate, and the hope of the glorious reign to come.
Great hymns like this one, whether we hear it in the car, while shopping, or at church invite us to settle into the moment, marvel at the truth, and once again kneel before the manger in worship and wonder.
Last year I came across an article in The Joyful Life Magazine about ways to incorporate hymns into your Christmas decorating. I loved the idea of using hymns to create visual reminders of Christmas truth, so I tucked the idea away and willed myself to remember it the following year.
I consider it a small Christmas miracle that I did in fact remember to turn my creative attention to hymns this year. I revisited the article, did some brainstorming, and sat down with my kids to make some Christmas hymn magic.
My kids each got busy researching the story behind their favorite Christmas hymn and wrote up a short report. We then printed out copies of the sheet music with their report on the back. Some dabbing with damp tea bags gave the hymns an aged, crinkled look, and some hot glue and a few simple embellishments added just the right touch. We then kicked it into bulk production mode and made 20 of each of the four hymns (it required a lot of tea bags!) so that we could deliver a stack of beautiful Christmas truth to our friends at a local nursing home.
Our prayer is that these hymns will indeed bridge the space between the secular and the sacred for these folks as it simultaneously closes the gap between Christmases past and present. I imagine them holding the music, reading the lyrics, and remembering bygone days. Perhaps they remember their grandmother singing “Angels We Have Heard on High” while she prepared Christmas dinner, or maybe the church bells tolled “Joy to the World” each Christmas morning.
As memories are stirred and familiar songs are revisited, I pray that the Spirit will move in a powerful way, and that they will see Jesus as more than a distant or vague subject of a familiar tune. I pray that the truth that Jesus is the Savior who came in His great love to meet them in their great need will touch their hearts like never before. And I pray the same for you.
“O Come Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord.”
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