New Again (Brad Paisley and Sara Evans)

I had never heard this song from Brad Paisley and Sara Evans until recently.  This is a great reminder of all that Jesus has done for us!

Would You Take the Place of This Man?

As we begin this new year, it is a great time to take stock of our lives.  As a Christian, that means remembering what Jesus did for us.  This wonderful song from Jeremy Camp and scenes from “The Passion of the Christ” helps to drive that point home.  (WARNING: Some of the scenes from the movie included in this video are graphic and not meant for young children.)

December 25 – It’s About the Cross (A Christmas Carol Advent)

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Video

History

This song was written and performed by Go Fish and appears on their Christmas album called Snow which was released in 2006.  We actually kicked off our Christmas Song Advent with a Go Fish song (Christmas With A Capital “C”) and it seems appropriate to end with this one which reminds us that Christmas may be about the birth of Christ, but in the end we must never lose sight of the cross!

Commentary & Analysis

This song isn’t as well known, but I couldn’t think of a better way to finish off this Christmas Carol Advent than with this song from Go Fish.  This song reminds us, on Christmas Day, that this holiday is actually quite secondary to the death and resurrection of Christ.  Over the last 25 days, we have looked at a number of songs celebrating the manger, the angels, the shepherds and the wise men.  Those are an integral part of Christmas celebration, but we should never lose sight of the cross of Christ where God paid the penalty for our sins so that we could be reconciled to him forever.  It’s about accepting him as our Lord and savior so that we can, through his death, be born again into the kingdom of God.  While we celebrate a babe born in the straw, we must remember the stone that was rolled away to find an empty tomb “so we can have real life someday.”  The second set of verses turns from the traditional, and biblical facets of Christmas, to remind us that the current trimmings (family, presents, snow, decorations and the feelings they all elicit), while nice are also not what Christmas is really about.  No matter how much we enjoy Christmas, and we should, we have to remember that it is only the beginning of Christ’s time on earth, and it was the end of his time here that gives us the opportunity at eternal life.

Questions for further Reflection / Devotion

The following questions are meant for your reflection and or devotion.  Feel free to meditate on them, discuss them with your family or others or post your responses here.  I would love to hear from you.

  1. Why do you think we, as Christians, spend so much more time and money celebrating Christmas rather than Easter?
  2. How can you spend time focusing of the cross this Christmas?
  3. How can you balance the joys of family and all the trimmings (which are not bad things) with the Biblical purpose of Christmas?
  4. Many families read the Christmas story ever Christmas morning or some time during the Christmas season.  What tradition can you start this year to shift some focus from Christmas Morning to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ?
  5. “It’s about God’s love, Nailed to a tree, It’s about every drop of blood that flowed from Him when it should have been me.” I challenge you this Christmas – every time you look at the Christmas Tree in your house, remember the tree Jesus was nailed to and what he did for you and me!

Lyrics

It’s not just about the manger
Where the baby lay
It’s not all about the angels
Who sang for him that day

It’s not just about the shepherds
Or the bright and shining star
It’s not all about the wisemen
Who travelled from afar

Chorus:
It’s about the cross
It’s about my sin
It’s about how Jesus came to be born once
So that we could be born again

It’s about the stone
That was rolled away
So that you and I could have real life someday

It’s about the cross
It’s about the cross

Verse 2:

It’s not just about the presents
Underneath the tree
It’s not all about the feeling
That the season brings to me

It’s not just about coming home
To be with those you love
It’s not all about the beauty
In the snow I’m dreaming of

Repeat Chorus

Bridge:

The beginning of the story is wonderful and great
But it’s the ending that can save you and that’s why we celebrate

It’s about the cross
It’s about my sin
It’s about how Jesus came to be born once
So that we could be born again

It’s about God’s love
Nailed to a tree
It’s about every drop of blood that flowed from Him when it should have been me

It’s about the stone
That was rolled away
So that you and I could have real life someday
So that you and I could have real life someday

It’s about the cross
It’s about the cross

Return to a Christmas Carol Advent index page.

December 24 – Silent Night (A Christmas Carol Advent)

1 MORE DAY UNTIL CHRISTMAS!

Video

History

Silent Night was penned in German (Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) by the Austrian Priest Father Joseph Mohr.  The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, and the song was first performed in the Nikolaus-Kirche (Church of St. Nicholas) in Oberndorf, Austria on December 24, 1818.

Commentary & Analysis

This is one of my favorite Christmas Carols and one of my favorite songs of all time.  Interestingly, the whole idea behind this song, a “silent night” is not addressed anywhere in the Bible.  There is no indication of atmosphere when Christ was born.  More likely, the phrase “silent night, holy night” is based on the nature of God based on passages like 1 Kings 19:11-12 when God showed himself to Elijah:

“And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.” [1 Kings 19:11-12 ESV]

And Psalm 46:10:

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  [Psalms 46:10 ESV]

Which indicate the calm nature of God.  The author perhaps felt that given that, the night Christ was born must have been a “silent night.” The fact that Jesus was born of a virgin is attested to in Matthew 1:18 and Matthew 1:23 and is the fulfillment of prophecy from Isaiah 7:14.  As for a “holy infant, so tender and mild,” there is no doubt that Jesus was holy.  There is no information regarding the infancy of Jesus in the Bible and the idea that he was “tender and mild” is more likely a reference to the general nature of infants and the condescension of God when he chose to take on human flesh and some live amongst his creation.

In the second verse, “Shepherds quake at the sight, Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing alleluia;” is all a reference to the appearance of angels to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem.  That story is told in Luke 2:8-14.

The final verse includes both a wonderful summary of the role of Jesus – “Son of God, loves pure light” – and some biblical inaccuracies / creative license in “Radiant beams from thy holy face.”  The Bible is clear that Jesus was the light and that men rejected the light:

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” [John 3:18-21 ESV]

Jesus was the Son of God sent into this world as a baby on Christmas morning to shine God’s light on the world.  That said, nowhere does the Bible indicate that the baby Jesus had a glow or beams of light literally came from him.  This portion of the carol either represents beautiful poetic imagery or a misstatement of biblical truth.  I prefer to think it is the former.

Questions for further Reflection / Devotion

The following questions are meant for your reflection and or devotion.  Feel free to meditate on them, discuss them with your family or others or post your responses here.  I would love to hear from you.

  1. What do you think it was like the night that Christ was born?
  2. Do you ever get so busy during the holiday season that you forget to slow down and enjoy the peace?
  3. How had God shined the light of his love into your life this holiday season?
  4. How do you interpret lines such as “Radiant beams from thy holy face” which have no clear scriptural support?
  5. What is one thing you can on Christmas day to “be still” and reflect on God?

Lyrics

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight,
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing alleluia;
Christ the Savior, is born!
Christ the Savior, is born!

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Return to a Christmas Carol Advent index page.

December 23 – O Holy Night (A Christmas Carol Advent)

2 MORE DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!

Video

History

“O Holy Night” was originally a French carol (“Cantique De Noel”) was penned as a poem in 1847 by Placide de Roguemaure based on his interpretation of what it would have been like to be present at the birth of Christ based on the account in the Gospel of Luke.  The music was composed by Adolphe-Charles Adam.  It

Commentary & Analysis

The first verse of this famous Christmas Carol capture the state of the world prior to the birth of Christ (“Long lay a world in sin and error pining”) and at the birth of Christ (“for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”)  I am always struck in the first verse of this song by the juxtaposition of the thrill of hope and a weary world.  We live in a world tainted by sin that does not work the way God created it to work.  We live in a world that, for the most part, rejects its creator.  We live in a world of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, lie, cheating, stealing, death, tears, anguish and indescribable pain.  I think weary captures the tenor of this world and those of us who live in it.  We are worn out by the grind, by the pain, by the longing for something better.  In a lonely manger, in a small town, without human fanfare, a small child was born.  That child, Jesus, was the Son of God sent to absolve us of our sin by his death on the cross.  That child was, and is, the hope of the world.  The only appropriate response we can offer to the gift of a savior is to fall on our knees in worship and adoration – it was a holy night indeed!

The second verse of this song recounts some of the details of Jesus’ birth which we have addressed in a number of song throughout this month, but it also reminds us that God knows what we need.  He knows our weaknesses and we need not hide them from him.  Indeed, the Bible reminds us that he makes us strong through our weaknesses.  He is, and should be, the source of our strength!

Finally, the third verse reminds us of a fundamental truth of the Bible – God is love (1 John 4:8).  God is love, and God is the source of all love.  God’s law is love – love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30).  As God loved us by send Jesus as our savior, all call this time of year, and throughout the year, is to love God and love others as God loved us!

Questions for further Reflection / Devotion

The following questions are meant for your reflection and or devotion.  Feel free to meditate on them, discuss them with your family or others or post your responses here.  I would love to hear from you.

  1. Who, in your family, does not know the love of Christ?  How can you go about sharing Christ’s love with them this season in a very tangible way?
  2. What weaknesses do you have in your Christian walk?  Do you try to hide those weaknesses from people or do you try to be transparent?  What is something you can do to work through those weaknesses for God’s Glory?
  3. What makes you weary?  How can you find strength in Jesus in that weakness?
  4. The second verse tells us to “Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!”  Take some time today to actually get on your knees before God and pray.  Tell him what’s on your mind, praise him for all he’s done, and tell him was you need.  Remember, God knows what we need, so telling him about it is more about you than him.  Meditate on how to cast your cares upon Jesus this Christmas season.
  5. Holy means set apart.  What tradition can you and your family start this year to preserve the Holy nature of Christmas?

Lyrics

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Return to a Christmas Carol Advent index page.

December 22 – Come And Worship (A Christmas Carol Advent)

3 MORE DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!

Video

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83huFAMOte0&feature=PlayList&p=CFF70EC088CC7224&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=11]

History

This song based on the Hymn “Angels from the Realms of Glory” was written by Bebo Norman for his Christmas CD entitled Christmas…From The Realms of Glory. That CD was released in 2007.

Commentary & Analysis

This month, we have looked at Christmas from the standpoint of shepherds, wise men, Mary, and a spectator in Bethlehem, amongst others.  This song tells the story of Christmas from heaven’s perspective.  The first verse speaks to the angels from creation to proclaiming the Messiah’s birth.  The chorus is a call to the only rightful response to the coming Messiah – one of worship.  In the second verse, we see a heavenly view of the shepherds.  Rather than  focusing on the awe and wonder of the shepherds, this verse recounts what the shepherds were privileged to see – the very light of God come in infant form to live with his creation.  The final verse looks forward to Christ’s second coming when his work shall finally be completed and his eternal kingdom established.  This song places Christmas in its rightful position in God’s larger story from Genesis to Revelation.

Questions for further Reflection / Devotion

The following questions are meant for your reflection and or devotion.  Feel free to meditate on them, discuss them with your family or others or post your responses here.  I would love to hear from you.

  1. Christmas as well Christ’s death and resurrection were planned by God before he ever created the world.  If you have children, take some time to place Christmas in the larger story of God and his relationship with his creation this Christmas.
  2. Many people list Jesus as the person they would most like to spend a dinner with.  If you had the opportunity to walk and talk with Jesus, what would you ask him?
  3. This song speaks of watching in both hope and fear.  When you think of Jesus, do you feel both hope and fear?  Do you feel one more than the other?  Should you?
  4. As you celebrate the initial coming of Christ this Christmas, spend some time meditating on his second coming.
  5. What can you do on this Christmas to not just remember Christ and what he has done, but to worship him?

Lyrics

Angels from the realms of glory
Wing your flight o’er the earth.
Ye who sang creations story
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.

Chorus
Come and worship, come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ the newborn King.

Shepherds in the fields abiding
Watching o’er your flocks by night.
God with man is now residing
Yonder shines the infant light

Chorus
Come and worship, come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ the newborn King.
(repeat)

Saints before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear.
Suddenly the Lord descending
in His temple shall appear.

Chorus
Come and worship, come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ the newborn King.
(repeat)

Return to a Christmas Carol Advent index page.

December 21 – Mary’s Boy Child (A Christmas Carol Advent)

4 MORE DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!

Video

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZ4FK1uXm_U]

History

Mary’s Boy Child was written by Jester Hairston in 1956 and recorded by Harry Belafonte that same year.

Commentary & Analysis

This one is a little more offbeat as Christmas songs go, but I love the very first line in that it reminds us of our source of all truth when it comes to Christmas.  No matter what society tries to change the holiday into, not matter what fallacies have come to be accepted because of their inclusion in Christmas songs, no matter how many stories are written are about Santa Claus and his elves, the only real source of information on Christmas is the Bible – “..so the Holy Bible say.”

This song presents Christmas in its simplest terms, a baby (Jesus) was born in a manger in Bethlehem to Mary and Joseph on Christmas Day.  Through his life, and death, we are reconciled to God, conquer death and live forever in his presence.  The angels announced the coming of this eternal King to lowly shepherds.

Questions for further Reflection / Devotion

The following questions are meant for your reflection and or devotion.  Feel free to meditate on them, discuss them with your family or others or post your responses here.  I would love to hear from you.

  1. This song reminds us that the Baby Jesus was born in a manger because there was no room for him in the inn.  Do you leave room in your heart for Jesus?
  2. What is your view of the Bible?  Do you only read and accept those parts which you find easy to accept, or do you believe that it is all true and inspired by God?
  3. How important is the inerrancy of scripture to your faith?
  4. This song proclaims that man will live forevermore because of Christmas day.  Do you believe this?  Was there another way for God to save mankind which would not have involved Jesus taking on human form and dying on the cross for our sins?  If so, why did he choose this option?  If not, why not?
  5. This Christmas season, spend some time meditating on the saving work of Jesus Christ.

Lyrics

Long time ago in Bethlehem, so the Holy Bible say,
Mary’s boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a new king born today,
And man will live forevermore, because of Christmas Day.

While shepherds watch their flocks by night, then see a bright new shining star,
then hear a choir sing a song, the music seemed to come from afar.

Now Joseph and his wife, Mary, come to Bethlehem that night,
and find no place to bear her child, not a single room was in sight.

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a new king born today,
And man will live forevermore, because of Christmas Day.

By and by they found a little nook in a stable all forlorn,
and in a manger cold and dark, Mary’s little boy was born.

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a new king born today,
And man will live forevermore, because of Christmas Day.

Return to a Christmas Carol Advent index page.