Monthly Archives: December 2014
I love Christmas carols. I especially prefer the classics—those written centuries ago, particularly those arranged by John Rutter and sung by an English choir. So when it gets difficult for me to embrace the Christmas season, with temperatures in the upper 50’s or when I find myself caught up in the Christmas hustle and bustle, I often look to these songs for encouragement. Their poetic language and theological richness remind me afresh of the wonder and mystery of the Incarnation, drawing me into the true Christmas Spirit.
One of my favorites is O Holy Night.
“O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared, and the soul felt its worth.”
“The soul felt its worth” – what a great phrase! Christmas reminds us that we are worth God emptying himself, taking on flesh and blood, and “moving into the neighborhood” as Immanuel, “God with Us.” More than that, our soul, bound as it is in the curse, lost as it is in sin, requires the Lord’s blood for healing and forgiveness – and the God of the universe thinks that is a price worth paying. And yet it seems to me that the world has lost sight of a soul’s worth. A few minutes spent watching the news, scanning the magazine covers at the grocery store, listening to the radio, or watching reality television quickly reveals us to be a people desperately longing to be affirmed, valued, and loved. A world in sin and error pinning – that is easy enough to see. Sadly, our world isn’t inhabited by an abundance of people living lives marked by a knowledge of God’s inestimable love for them as expressed in Jesus. We too often find our value and worth in an ecosystem fashioned by Hollywood, Wall Street, and Madison Avenue; we function on a daily basis in an atmosphere where everything and everyone is commodified and objectified.
In contrast, may the Truth found in the carols wash over us afresh this Christmas. We, along with the children we serve, need to know, believe and be transformed by the truth expressed in carols like O Holy Night. We all need to be reminded of God’s lavish love for us – children and adults alike. This truth isn’t easy to embrace. Children default to a conditional love and think of Santa Claus keeping a list of those who are naughty and nice. As adults, we struggle to not find our worth in what we do or in what we possess. So it is good news indeed that Christ Jesus, unlike old Saint Nick, “does not judge us according to our iniquity or treat us as our sins deserve.” (Psalm 103:10) Isn’t it freeing to know that “it is by grace you have been saved through faith…not by works so that no one can boast?” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
In the knowledge of Christ’s appearing this holiday season, may each of us know our true worth in Him.
Head of School