Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sing a Song of Christmas

I am a music teacher by trade and love all sorts of music. When I talk about music it comes from a place in me that was planted at birth and has been watered, fertilized and grown over the years by many other music lovers. Because of their hard work in me I have been able to sing in international choirs with people who know a handful of English phrases and whose language, I'm sorry to say, I knew even less of. There is a reason the phrase "Music is the international language" resonates so clearly with so many. So......today's post has a bit of a different twist because I'm choosing to focus on the music of this Christmas Season and not directly to a Bible passage. I hope I've proven my love for the Word of God, and that I encourage others to fall in love with the Author of our Souls through the sharing of that love, but sometimes I am overwhelmed in WONDER of our marvelous God when I learn the stories behind the songs of my favorite Season of the year.

Today I won't focus on a specific song, but rather on a defense and call for churches around the globe to get back to the practice of singing Christmas songs in their services during the season of Advent. I know many churches still do, but there is a general trend heading away from it "because it might offend or turn off some people seeking a place to connect." (or whatever other excuse they give...)

I need to stop for a moment and ask your forgiveness now because I can feel my heart starting to beat faster and my fingers are making silly mistakes because I can't type fast enough. I know this is a HUGE trigger issue for me. It aggravates me to no end that we water down a Christ-centered gathering so we don't offend visitors. Do we not realize that people come to a church because the world is watered down with so much stuff that they're looking for a place where the focus is clear and not apologized for? So, if this seems a bit too passionate, please look past the person to the heart.

Why do Apple users cling together so much in solidarity over a brand? Because it's clear and focused on one thing - Apple. It's not Android vs. Windows vs. Chrome vs. whatever (I'm not a name person, so please go with the idea of what I'm saying and not the specifics. Thank you.)

In-n-Out is famous all over and yet they only have restaurants on the West Side of our country. Why? Because they are focused and clear. You're not going to have to look at the menu and figure out if you want a hot dog, a gyro, a bowl of chili, a salad or a hamburger. You need to figure out what you want on your hamburger and how you want your fries (well done are best!).

So WHY can't the church get this message?????? Stop the marketing! Stop the madness of trying to remain focused by NOT singing Christmas music because Christmas music can be heard in every store, gas station, elevator and radio station outside the church!

THAT'S THE COOL PART ABOUT CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!

NO Other time of the year does the world conform to what's going on in the church! At Christmas-time they do!!! Pentatonix released a new song this year - have you heard it? It's a beautiful rendition of "Mary, Did you Know?" WHAT???? A secular group singing a song asking the woman chosen to be the mother of our Lord, JESUS CHRIST, if she KNEW He was going to wha? SAVE. THE. WORLD!!!

In a world where people are seeking peace -
In a world where people are seeking grace -
In a world where people are seeking answers -
In a world where people are seeking what they cannot explain -
CHRISTMAS MUSIC IS TELLING THEM WHERE TO FIND IT!!!

So, why aren't we singing these songs?

(caveat: in no way, shape or form am I condemning the singing of year-round worship songs in our services during Advent. I am, instead, saying Christmas songs ARE songs of worship, but they're not songs we would sing during, I don't know, April, so we need to sing them when we can!)

I've discovered over the years that we are losing out on the twice a year attender. No longer do families deem it necessary to attend a Christmas-Eve service or an Easter service. I've asked myself why and I've asked friends who are those people why....Christmas and Easter in the church meant CELEBRATING the very reason for those holidays.

In one church I attended we actually were given plastic eggs full of confetti to throw in the air at the end of the Easter service in celebration of the FACT that we serve a RISEN Savior. That was 16 years ago, and it still moves my soul every time I think of it. WHY, Christian, can't our faith be exciting and celebratory like that??? WHY can't our Christmas services throughout Advent take the opportunity to sing the songs everyone else is hearing everywhere else but the church service they decided to attend because that song by (insert secular artist who would never sing about Jesus but wants to release a "holiday" album to make guaranteed money here) reminded them that Christmas stirs something in them only found in a Christian Church?

If you're a church that doesn't sing Christmas songs, can you tell me why? I really believe you're missing out on a tremendous opportunity because if someone hears a song triggering the hole in them where Jesus knocks and they attend your service, but don't know any of the songs because you're singing mainstream worship songs they've never heard of, they won't be back.

I have friends who grew up in the church but no longer attend. During THIS SEASON of focusing on a baby sent to earth to save our world, they long for those days when their childlike wonder was fed by the lights, the decorations, the Advent candles, and the *songs* they sang with others who may not even (yet) know that Baby King. Is your church giving them the place to find that wonder? Are YOU celebrating the very fact that this baby came to earth from a place where houses are made of diamonds and streets are paved with gold? HE GAVE THAT UP and we're singing beautiful songs of worship, but missing out on the opportunity to bring JOY to the World on a Silent Night that Came Upon a Midnight Clear.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season, we've all said, read, or heard - so why don't we, the Church, boldly announce that WE have the ANSWER a weary soul is seeking....in the songs they already know? We can't make them comfortable by watering down the Gospel, but we can certainly make them comfortable by allowing them to nestle into the stable with the shepherds, the wise men, the sheep, cattle, barn mice and lowing cows as we gather around and sing about this O. HOLY. Night. when a  baby was born Away in a Manger.

Merry Christmas, reader! Enjoy this video of the Pentatonix song I mentioned above, "Mary Did You Know?"
If you'd like to listen to how Christmas music can be sung around the world, you can listen to my YouTube playlist I put together real quick right HERE. It's a compilation of secular artists, Christian artists, choirs, and people I've never heard of singing the songs we're familiar with (and some we're not) all around the world. 
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