by Paul Zabel
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him” (Psalm 28:7).
I truly enjoy listening to music. And, to be honest, I enjoy a variety of types of music. Whenever I am travelling in a car and there is an unexpected delay for whatever reason, I simply turn the volume up a notch or two and scan through the different radio stations until I come upon a familiar or a catchy tune.
During this time of year there are a number of radio stations that have altered their regular programming format to play solely Christmas music. While I am aware of the fact that there are a number of scrooges who grouse and complain and perhaps respond with a “bah-humbug” to anything and everything pertaining to the celebration of Christmas – I, for the most part, regard it as one of the most wonderful times of the year.
This year—and quite unlike my normal practice of waiting until the last minute and avoiding shopping malls like the plague—I found myself most recently in a shopping mall of sorts and rather enjoying it. Part of the reason for my enjoyment was because, in the centre of the particular shopping mall I was in, there was a group of singers, beautifully gowned, singing Christmas carols. They were singing as if the message they were sharing really came from the bottom of their hearts. As I stood there watching them, the thought occurred to me, that perhaps this old world in which we live is not quite as bad as we may think! And, that contrary to what many would have us believe, there still is hope! If only everyone who believes in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour from sin and His message of love and salvation would keep singing it—not only on a Sunday but in the middle of every busy working day. And if that happened, that message would incorporate itself into our actions, into the way that we interact with others, and even lead others to stop and at least think about who Jesus is and why He came.
If only everyone who believes in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour from sin and His message of love and salvation would keep singing it—not only on a Sunday but in the middle of every busy working day. If that happened, that message would incorporate itself into our actions and lead others to stop and think about who Jesus is and why He came.
Another event or tradition that I know is becoming less and less practised with our celebrations surrounding Christmas is the gathering of groups within our churches that give of their time to go about singing Christmas carols to the congregational members and shut-ins who do not have the opportunity of sharing in the beautiful Christmas worship services. Here is another event which gives me hope for the future. This is especially true when I witness many of the young people in our congregations who not only have the song in their own hearts, but in their multitude of tasks and activities feel that it is important enough for them to take the time to let the melodies of the Christmas carols and hymns adorn and light up the lives of others.
As we celebrate Christmas once again this year, what a joy to know that the Lord came with the specific purpose of going to the cross to suffer and die there for our sins so that each of us may be brought near to Him and into His kingdom both here on earth and in eternity. As we celebrate Christ this Christmas, are we experiencing His joy? His peace? Are we experiencing Him? Are we following Him? Are we sharing that joy and peace that we have in our relationship with Him with others?
Merry Christmas! I pray that the true meaning of Christ’s coming will fill your heart with joy this season!
Rev. Paul Zabel is President of the East District of Lutheran Church–Canada.