If you must know, by the time you’re reading this, I will have been listening to Christmas music for a couple of weeks. Yes, right after Halloween does seem a little early, I agree. And I will also admit that my taste in Christmas music usually errs on the side of older carols and orchestral arrangements (with some Harry Connick Jr. and John Denver added for good measure.) So if you don’t want to hear Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, avoid my office at church until then.
One thought that struck me this July (yes, July) was just how many Christmas songs (modern, anyway) are protest songs. “Do You Hear What I Hear?” was written around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and was protesting the nuclear situation during which the world sat with bated breath hoping for a peaceful solution. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is another song that attempts to call the listener’s attention to the problems of poverty, sickness, and a lack of hope that some might feel. There are plenty of lists on websites all over the web with more examples.
It’s important to note that the first Advent song was also pointing out that God sees the poor and lowly and seeks justice for them. Mary sang the Magnificat (Luke 2) which is a song declaring God’s saving power and action on behalf of his people, particularly those who have no voice or power of their own. It’s a song born out of a lingering sense of exile, despite living in the land of promise, despite having a reconstructed Temple, despite having many of the blessings that God had promised, despite their hopes and beliefs. Things still weren’t quite right.
And they still aren’t. But. And I love this “but.” God is working. God is on the move. Jesus has come. Jesus has defeated the great enemies of sin and death. Jesus has risen again, bringing with him new life and the promise of complete restoration! But not yet. (And that “but,” I’m not as fond of.)
As Advent approaches and we think about how God’s people waited for years for God to appear, to return to His people in a new way. We also wait for something similar. We wait for God to appear in His glory to finally make everything right, to bring history to its brilliant climax – bringing with Him justice, along with mercy.
And so we wait. We, too, wait for that day. And we work. We follow. We seek. Keep watching. Keep praying. Keep serving. The King is coming. May you be blessed this Christmas season.