By Jerome Malek
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” Psalm 98:4
From the beginning of time God’s creation has manifested the glory of God. The mystery and splendor of the universe cries out in joyful sounds and majestic beauty testifying to the transcendent nature of the Creator.
God’s people down through the ages have proclaimed God’s praises. Now it is our turn to offer our praise and worship. God is revealed in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth to whom we celebrate in churches throughout the world.
Music has always played a major role in the celebration of the birth of Christ. Composers, poets, and other artists have endeavored to capture the joy of the coming of Immanuel (God with us) as not only creator, but as redeemer.
Too splendid for speech but ripe for a song:
the wonders of God to whom we belong!
What tune can we sing? What rich chords can we play
to honor the potter who made us from clay?
The swell of earth’s praise shall build to a blast
of trumpets and drums when God comes at last
to hear if our lives, like the heavens above,
are filled with the music of justice and love.
Alert to your notes that dance in the heart
we promise, O God, that we’ll sing our part
and pray that the song which your song shall inspire
will lead every nation to join in your choir.
Thomas H. Troeger
Copyright to Oxford University Press, Inc. 1985
Assigned to Oxford University Press 2010
Reproduced by Permission of CopyCat Music Licensing, LLC
Bob Oxford University Press
All Rights Reserved
by Dan Jean
“The whole assembly then agreed to celebrate the festival seven more days;
so for another seven days they celebrated joyfully.” 2 Chronicles 30:23
The anticipation of the big day is a memory. The gifts have all been unwrapped. The guests have gone home. It is time to take down those decorations. The Christmas season has come to an end, and a new year is here.
As the tree comes down, the cards are read one last time and thrown away, and the wreaths and tinsel go back in the closet, the season of joy comes to an abrupt end. The house looks bare and drab after the sparkles and bright colors are put away. There is a sadness that wants to creep in and unravel our experience. It is too easy to “pack and label” our Christmas joy and good will, and put them away until next year. I don’t think it has to be this way. Here is why…
First, the “label” is wrong. The trappings of Christmas are NOT Christmas, but only symbols of it. We don’t celebrate a decorated tree. We don’t anticipate eggnog and lighted houses. Yes, we enjoy them. Yes, they add to our experience. I urge care that we not “label” these icons incorrectly, and give them too much importance. Christmas is about the birth of a savior and the joy that birth brings to all people. Worship, the re-telling of the important stories of our faith, is a joyful component of Christmas. The church celebrates weekly, not annually. The Christ in Christmas promises to be with us always.
Next, we can continue to feast. Our gatherings with family, friends, and loved ones over a meal are not rare events, or at least they don’t need to be. A shared meal is always a celebration. Most of us eat two or three times a day! Re-label “dinner.” Call it a “feast”. Invite a friend. Talk. Laugh. Celebrate! Don’t pack away the joy of sharing a meal.
Also, for me, a component of extending the Christmas season for twelve months involves not “packing and putting away” the joy and good will we long for. Keep joy. Keep good will. The most spirited part of the brightest Christmas sweater – the detail that makes it stand out – is the bright smile just a few inches above the collar. In fact, that smile may be one of the best decorations on display throughout the season. You can pack that sweater away for another year, but your smile is in style all year long. It is joy you long for. Don’t pack it away.
Remember that Jesus’ birth is not something that happened “to us” a long time ago, but is something that happens “in us” always. Continue the celebration. Let the joy of the savior shine from within all year long.
Pastor Dan Jean
A Pastor’s Letters, 2014
This is from a collection of articles Dan Jean wrote to his congregation, New Hope United Methodist Church. Republished with his permission.