A lay leader asked her pastor to recommend some songs suitable to be sung at an informal ladies gathering during Advent. The pastor responded, “How about some of the Christmas carols.” Her response: “But they’re all so theological.”
Indeed, they are theological. That’s the glory of them. At Christmas time, Christians are less inclined to sing ditties that lack good, singable theology. The meaning of the season and the beauty of its hymnody are too important for that. Consider:
For Christ is born of Mary, And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
Infant holy, Infant lowly, for his bed a cattle stall;
Oxen lowing, little knowing Christ the babe is Lord of all.
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth;
Or, one more
O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
Christmas carols are unavoidably theological. And their theological content is only enhanced by the fact that they are lyrics devised by such illustrious hymn writers as Charles Wesley and matched to some of the best music in the hymnal — tunes by great musicians like George Frederick Handel and Felix Mendelssohn. And, what’s more, they come to us from several periods of history and also from many different lands.
The world can’t seem to forget the Christmas hymns. During this advent season, I heard some of these memorable melodies wafted over the sound systems of business establishments as background to the buzz and click of computer-driven cash registers. I heard them several times on television and radio stations that are professedly secular in their programming. The whole world, it seems, cannot keep itself from remembering that a Savior has been born and his name is Christ the Lord!
So, as a wrap-up to Advent and a preparation for the celebration of New Years it is good for Christians to refocus on the fact that all of life, not just Advent, is inescapably theological. During Advent, it is about God and how he has revealed himself “bodily”. It’s about how deeply he cares for his world. That too is theological. It is about the predicament our world is in because of sin and about how this Great God provides for the redemption of man, both in time and for eternity.
Just because we say goodbye to Advent, we dare not let ourselves forget: Christ came! Christ comes! Christ will come again!
So, because of Our Lord’s humility in his first coming, his goodness, his power soon to be revealed I say: Blessings, and Happy New Year to my readers, one and all!