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When one comes to Christmas one comes to mysteries so bright. God become man. The Creator humbling himself before his own creation. The infinite become finite in flesh, light sleeping. Strength enfeebled.
We Christians are often criticized for speaking out of both sides of our mouth. Jesus, we proclaim, was fully God yet fully man. He is the son of God but, at the same time, the son of man. How can this be?
If one decided to paint a portrait of Jesus, when you come to his sleeve, shall you render it in yellow? Or perhaps red? If you try for both red and yellow, you’ll get another color all together—orange. Two colors simply cannot occupy the same space and time without becoming something else.
Ah, but in the realm of music, a B-flat and a C-sharp can sound together and both are fully themselves at the same time. Indeed, it is the art of music that best explains the nature of Jesus Christ as fully God yet fully man at the same time.
Karl Barth put it well. “Words are hostile to the genuine miracle of Christmas; detrimental, always powerless to justify it! How fortunate that when were are disturbed and oppressed by the problem of words, we can flee to the realm of music. Music is the true and legitimate bearer of the message of Christmas.”
Indeed, each Advent season there is a gush of music… Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Carols like Joy To The World!, Silent Night, and Come, All Ye Faithful.
To be sure, Christmas music has been trivialized by banal ditties, ear candy, and myth. But if you push it aside and dig deeper, there are gems to be had like Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming, or Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella. So, feast yourself on music, on mysteries so bright here in the season of Christ’s birth.
The Reverend Stephen Crotts is pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Charlotte Court House, VA. He is also the director of the Carolina Study Center, Inc., a campus ministry, located in Chapel Hill, NC. Pastor Crotts may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.