Christmas is inundated with some rich wonderful holiday music that lends a profound fullness to the holiday season. The messages in this music are far different than most of the music that we listen to throughout the year.
With days shortened and the breathtaking migrations now concluded, the last leaves of autumn would spin in some nimble dance set to the music of the seasons, bow in the exit of a season well lived, and then graciously turn the stage of the world over to a winter’s rest. With fall having spun off the stage until the next year’s curtain call, the world would rub sleepy eyes, wrap itself in a fleecy blanket of wooly-white snow, roll over and slowly drift off to a winter’s slumber. And it was on a horizon of frothy snow and winter’s white that Christmas headed our way.
I grew up with Christmas carols listlessly floating through our house throughout the holidays. With the tree sparkling in a perpetual cascade of color, the woodsy aroma of burning hardwood in the fireplace, frothy hot chocolate rubbing everything sweet, windows resplendently edged by frost’s brilliant artistry, and with snow tenderly pirouetting with winter’s wind, the music drifted through the house and cavorted with our hearts. It somehow lent a voice to it all, and in doing so it seemed to draw out and magnify the deepest essence each thing.
Music gave the season a voice. Its melodies embroidered everything, framing all the elements of the holidays and showcasing them in a way grander than any museum could ever hope to replicate. And in the embroidering, it brought them all together in a splendid sort of unity wherein their voices coalesced in a manner so utterly marvelous that you almost couldn’t stand it.
While the sweetness of the melodies were ‘captivating’, I later learned that the prose in the lyrics were ‘life-changing’. Although I had not recognized it earlier, the power of the words exceeded the majesty of the melody. And I soon learned that although I had left the words aside on the distant edges of the melody, it was the words that moved me. The melody was the means by which the words were delivered. I had paid attention to the packaging of melody, thinking it alone was the message when all along it was the lyrics.
The Lyrics of the World
The world is inundated by music, or what purports to be music. It likewise embroiders everything, framing the elements of our lives and our existence. Its penmanship is born of the musing of men, absent of anything more for by ourselves we cannot be more. Therefore, it’s scrawling’s will be infected by the poison of our depravity, spun bare by the bane of our bias, grated thin by our greed, and it will be held a helpless hostage to the confines of our limitations.
And because man’s music is crafted by both pen and ink of this sort, we would be wise to ask, “What are the lyrics?” What is it that’s embroidering and framing this world of ours? What is it that’s lending a voice to our seasons? What are the words that we’ve pushed off to the distant edges of the melody? What are the lyrics, because if we listen to them, we will live them.
The Lyrics of Christmas
The lyrics of Christmas are freed of the scrawling penmanship of men. And because they are, they call us to all that is good and to live expecting all that is great. They inspire us against the bane of mediocrity and the cancer of selfishness. They bid that we boldly raise ourselves beyond ourselves and be merciless in throwing down everything that throws us down. They challenge us to embrace the wholeness of our humanity rather than wallowing in the greed of our depravity. They are lyrics of the very liberation that we fear, but the exact liberation that we need. They call us to a restoration of everything that we were made to be but everything that we have stubbornly refused to be.
They are lyrics penned by a God who stepped into the sordid rubbish of our own soiled depravity so that we might join Him in a grand reversal of humanity restored. They are the lyrics of a great turning, of a freefall reversed and destruction destroyed. They are the light relentlessly shining into the twisted catacombs of our own creation within which we have buried ourselves. And if in fact we live the lyrics that we are listening to, these are the lyrics that I wish to hear. These are the words I wish to sing.
And so, at this time of Christmas you might ask yourself, “What are the lyrics that I am listening to?” For whatever they are, they are what you will live.