THE SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS
My twenty-one year old niece visited me, when I lived in Brussels all those years ago. She was raised with an entirely different religious perspective than I, but she did agree to go with me to church on Sunday.
I was scheduled to sing that morning. As I stood before the congregation, I caught a glimpse of my niece sitting two-thirds of the way back, tears flowing down her cheeks.
Later that afternoon I asked, “Honey, I saw you crying this morning. What was wrong? Were you offended, or was it just that everything was new to you?”
“A little of both,” she replied, “but those people were so vocal. I’m not used to that.”
I had to suppress a smile. I was raised in a Pentecostal church. For many years we were criticized and made fun of because our worship was boisterous. For the most part, that is no longer true, and that change is not necessarily a good thing. I considered our congregation in Brussels to be quiet and sedate. Oh, there were those who quietly said “Amen” from time to time, when the Pastor was preaching, and there was one lovely Belgian woman who called out “Evidemment,” which, in French, means “Obviously, or that’s right, I agree.”
In answer to my nieces complaint, I said, “Sweetheart, when you consider what God has done for us in sending Jesus, and the gift of eternal life He offers to all of us, that’s something to be excited about—something shout about—a reason to be vocal.
Lying awake in the middle of the night I thought about that long ago conversation and I was reminded of the sounds of Christmas.
The Gospel writer, Luke, tells us that after the angel told the shepherds that Jesus, our Savior was born in Bethlehem, there was “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”
The sound of that massive choir filled all the heavens and the earth and penetrated all of creation. You can’t suppose for a moment that the angels were whispering those praises. No! They were shouting for joy, because God’s Son had come to earth.
Think of those humble shepherds. The word says that, after they had seen the Christ Child, they were filled with joy going through town sharing with everyone the things that had been told them, and the things they had seen concerning the child.
“Guess what, “they must have shouted. “We have seen the Savior, who was so long promised to us.”
Their joy was contagious, for the people who heard it marveled at their message.
The shepherds returned to their fields glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen. There was no whispering among this bunch.
Of course, we must consider Mary, that teen-age mother. Luke says that “…Mary kept all these things (The angel’s song, the shepherds’ visit, and the birth of this promised child) and pondered them in her heart.” It must have been difficult to put everything together, but looking into the face of her newborn son, she knew he was no ordinary child. He was the promised Son of God. Cradling that tiny, precious bundle close to her heart, she mingled her voice with those of the angels and shepherds singing a lullaby of worship to her baby, the Son of God.
The Wise men didn’t show up until Jesus was a toddler, but Matthew 2:10, 11 tells us “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy…and when they saw the young child…they fell down and worshiped him…” adding their voices to the sounds of Christmas.
Why is it we have no trouble screaming and jumping up and down for a football star? Why is it we are so excited about winning a pickup truck on “The Price is Right, but we hesitate to lift our voices in praise to the Savior of the world?
Come on, friends! Go to it! Deck the Halls, shop ‘til you drop, bake the cookies, enjoy the parties, and eat yourself into oblivion, but sometime, during all the festivities, find time to lift your heart and blend your voice with the sounds of Christmas praising God for His unspeakable gift—His gift swaddled in the Christmas wrappings of divine grace and offered freely and personally to every individual.
“O, COME LET US ADORE HIM!”
Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!