Tuesday, December 12, 2017

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”

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From Psalm 28:
        The Lord is my strength and my shield;
                    my heart trusts in him, and I have been helped;
        Therefore my heart dances for joy,
                    and in my song will I praise him.
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” says one popular song you’ve probably heard lately.  But as I go about my daily life, I’m struck by how much it’s sounding like Christmas. Our world right now is saturated with music looking forward to Christmas. It’s everywhere you go, as the song says—in shopping malls, on the radio, in elevators and doctors’ offices, in television commercials and at the movie theatres. I even had Christmas-themed hold music on a phone call yesterday.
These songs—both the secular ones and the traditional Christian hymns—go a long way towards getting is un the holiday spirit.  They remind us of warm, cozy evenings spent with family and friends; they invite us to be jolly and cheerful; they offer solace for people who struggle with anxiety, loneliness, or fear, particularly in this time of year. Many cherish attending a performance of Handel’s Messiah, or of going to a local parish’s service of Lessons and Carols. And I’m sure I’m not alone in looking forward to hearty singing at a midnight service on Christmas Eve.
The world—and the church—often uses music to set a tone, to get us in a particular mindset or mood. But how can we use the music in our lives more intentionally, as a way of responding to God? In Psalm 28, praising God in song is a response to God’s steadfast love. The psalmist, thankful for God’s grace and protection, offers not faint praise but jubilant dance and song.
St. Augustine famously wrote that those who sing, pray twice. In this season of preparation and renewal, consider which familiar songs embody how you might respond to God’s working in your life. Perhaps, this Advent, the quiet expectancy of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” reflects your sense of anticipation. Or perhaps the majesty and awe of “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending” speaks to your yearning for Christ’s glorious reign. In this season filled with so many familiar songs, which songs can you use in your own prayer life?

Post by Jett McAlister

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