Christmas Eve Meditation

    I don’t often consider myself a musical person.  I like music.  I listen to music.  I have my preferred genres and favorite artists.  I am a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.  I like smooth jazz, blue grass, oldies, worship and praise music, old hymn, and Taylor Swift.  (Which my grandchildren find amusing.)  As I looked back over some of these meditations, and those from Good Friday, I noticed how often music has been a part of these moments together.
    Several songs have become significant to my personal Christmas worship and celebration.  The first was Mary Did You Know?.  I still love to listen to that song as it delves into what Mary understood about the baby born that night.  Versions by the author, Mark Lowery, and Pentonix are on my list I enjoy, but oddly my favorite version is by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd.  “The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again. . .” Words of Jesus himself proving he was the Christ.  Hard to beat that Christmas Eve message.
    The second song on my hit parade is A Baby Changes Everything.  The only version I know is by Faith Hill.  This explores the massive changes in the life of Jesus’ mother.  It ends with the blending of Amazing Grace, “My whole live was turned around.  I was lost but now I’m found.  A baby changes everything.” He did, he does, and he will do so for each of us.
    This year’s song is actually a rediscovery.  Years ago we did a cantata here for Christmas Eve.  I cannot say whether it was the whole thing or just one song within the cantata, but the title is A Strange Way to Save the World.  The singers I listened to this morning were 4Him.  But the song memory was someone else.  Beca Sartori posted this on her Facebook page yesterday, remembering her father singing it, here, in this building on this night.  I confess I had totally forgotten it.  This song explores the improbability of the events we celebrate tonight.  The recurring question is “Why?” One verse is written from Joseph’s view, Why me, why him, why here, why her?  “I am not one to second guess, but this is such a strange way to save the world.” Christmas is about miracles.  Whether they are in a manger 2000 years ago, on 34th St, or here in our own lives.  Fortunately, however strange it might been, I am thankful there is a way to save this world.
    I could list a dozen other songs which are personally powerful this Christmas Eve.  Breath of Heaven comes to mind.
    Yet, the first and foremost Christmas song for me is old, a 12th century Latin carol, Come O Come Emmanuel.  We did not get to sing it this year, though I suggested I loved it.  Here are a few of the words.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 Personally this song touches me on several levels.  I find the melody and harmonies haunting.  Yet, it is the message of the lyrics which are most appealing.  Words like those found here are rare these days.  They are poetic, and powerful, and true.  “Free thy own from Satan’s tyranny.” That is the heart and soul of the Advent, the Christmas, neigh, the Gospel message.  We are God’s.  We belong to the Lord.  But we needed rescued for we were, are captives of sins power.  A baby was born and changed everything.  He frees us.  So whether our response is “Hallelujah” or “Rejoice!” tonight is about the worship and praise of the man tonight’s baby becomes.  Tonight we celebrate the birth of our Savior.