I am perplexed by Carolling. I find it interesting how Christmas carols have developed and adapted over the years. From deeply sacred songs sung in many traditions and languages Reformed, Calvinist, Anglican, Lutheran Germanic, Celtic, English and so on through to heavily secularised appreciations for the season in general, tales of rouge-draped chubby men of great whisker and toiling sprites.
All good fun in spreading good cheer, but should that be our only focus?
Particularly evident is this to me at larger commercialised Christmas events. While seeking to engage people in a number of different levels of faith, or indeed no faith at all often times they become far more about the performance, inter-city competition and community expectation rather than Christ’s message.
Many of these events it would seem are experiential in nature, but with a focus on the emotional experience, a ‘feel good vibe’ rather than a Spiritual one. While these things are important in both the social fabric of a society and in generating good will it poses within me the question – Are we cultivating our own spirit of Christmas or indeed the Holy Spirit of Christmas that carries with it all that God has done and chooses to do with those with whom He would dwell?
Strange, that as we focus on happiness and love and being joyful but simultaneously as a culture forgetting about why we can and indeed should should be joyful, rather than simply that we are encouraged or able to be.
It is nice, if not psychologically beneficial as a community to come together and focus and sing about love and unity, but do we sing mindfully of the source of that love, or simply because it is a feel good experience?
Within this framework I thought – What of the first Christ’s Day Carol? The first Christmas song that echoed through the heart of the earth with the sound of heavenly chorus. Not that which is sung but rather that which is experienced. Not simply the Nativity, but the heaving of God and all he has created in the birth pangs of his coming Son.
Often during a Christmas eve service I feel like I am very close to that first Carol. There is a heaviness in the advent of Christ’s birth that seems to permeate the air. An anticipation throughout the day and indeed in the days before, an expectation within Creation that something so totally Creation-changing is about to flow outward from the Father into the world.
That is the Christmas Carol that I choose to experience.
As in Faith and Christianity, free will before God plays a massive part in how we experience Him and His birth. We have the power to choose what and how we want to focus on in celebrating the birth of a King this Christmas.
Moreover, Christ’s birth is not just a special day, but the advent of the personification of Grace- Christ with us. It is not just the birth of a Saviour but an illustration of the Father’s love and deep longing to dwell with His people. That first Carol was about not just Him but about You and Him. It was not just about a child born into poverty and persecution but the story of a God that chose to go through poverty and persecution with YOU, for YOU and because of YOU.
It is because of that deep, uncompromising love that we have Christmas. It is because of that first Carol that we can plug in and share in the emotion of that deep love of the Father.
In this lead up to Christmas why not seek not just to enjoy these times, but rather experience the gift of that first Christ-day carol.
©Andrew Jewell 2017 Wedgetailministries.com