Sunday, December 09, 2012

Tis the Season?
Some Fascinating Music Videos

Here are some music videos and their accompanying links:

Christmas Flash Mob by Journey of Faith at South Bay Galleria - official video

Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, Hallelujah Chorus - Must See! - YouTube

It seems that this is the one time of year when such things are counted as permissible, perhaps even to be encouraged.

But then, tradition is nearly always counted as valuable and acceptable, especially if it helps to foster merriment and good cheer so that people are thinking of “giving,” which translates to purchasing.

Yet the heart does rejoice to hear that the Gospel is proclaimed, even if only for a brief season and often with tradition and marketing as the motivation.  The Gospel is nevertheless briefly broadcast to fall upon the various kinds of soil, where perhaps it will sprout and take root and flourish for a precious few souls.

Joy to the World Christmas Food Court Flash Mob! - Must See!

How many people notice that this common use of this hymn or carol is truncated to omit the third stanza?  How many people even know the third stanza?  Though this video is offered by Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, they make no mention of the stanza that explains the reason for this marvelous “Joy to the World.”

Here is the entire hymn:

1. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
 Let earth receive her King;
 Let every heart prepare Him room
 And heaven and nature sing.

 2. Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
 Let men their songs employ,
 While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
 Repeat the sounding joy.

 3. No more let sins and sorrows grow
 Nor thorns infest the ground;
 He comes to make His blessings flow
 Far as the curse is found.

 4. He rules the world with truth and grace
 And makes the nations prove
 The glories of His righteousness
 And wonders of His love.

Why is there cause for this wondrous Joy to the World?  It is because in Christ there is no more sin, the cause for sorrow and the curse that God placed upon the ground for Man’s sake.  In Christ, the Lamb who takes the sin of the world has come.  In Christ the curse, while still evident to remind us of the need for the repentance that the Holy Spirit works, no longer has power to bring us low and make us sad.  For in Christ we have redemption and justification and sanctification.

But people prefer to omit this stanza because apart from Christ there is no true Joy to the World because apart from Christ the curse still rules.  And so they embrace only the notion of the hope for joy, joy that is a fleeting emotion that must be conjured up through hyperbolic emotional facades.  Singing of carols without thought as to their meaning; bright lights on trees and the eves of the houses; flying reindeer and fat jolly old men in red suits farcically saying “Ho! Ho! Ho!” while the cameras flash and little children are urged into deeper delusions of self-gratification and lust for toys and other gifts of mammon, all these are promoted for the sake of fleeting moments of feeling happy without considering the cause of unhappiness in the world for which the Christ is come into the world to remove.

Perhaps the saddest realization of all is that this is done also in the churches, where the pure Gospel is supposed to be preached with the true Joy to the World that is realized only through the change of heart and mind that we commonly call repentance.

So, for those who know the true source of Joy to the World it is indeed proper to

Repeat the sounding joy:

 No more let sins and sorrows grow
 Nor thorns infest the ground;
 He comes to make His blessings flow
 Far as the curse is found.
 Far as the curse is found.
 Far as, far as, the curse is found.

After all, this is what the world most needs to hear, is it not, so that this joy may indeed be made known to the world?

Musical Interruption - Carol Of The Bells - Must See Christmas Video!

Wikipedia has a brief history of Carol of the Bells.

At Lyrics Carol of the Bells the full text of this very popular and merry song are available.  This again is fleeting hyperbole, but it does indeed move the heart, mind and spirit to momentary feelings of joy.

Certainly even such shallow songs can be of benefit in lifting the spirits of souls that are in need of upliftment.  But if this is all that people embrace, the emotional drop that occurs after the hype has ended can be devastating.  Such hyperbole has to be pursued continually and in the end has no real power to overcome the curse, only presenting a delusional momentary sense of escape.

In awareness of this some have taken songs like this one and have rewritten them to try to Christianize them and give them a more sanctified appearance.

One example is this one sung by the Ray Conniff Singers:

Ring, Christmas bells, Merrily ring,
Tell all the world Jesus is King!
Loudly proclaim
With one accord,
The happy tale;

Welcome the Lord!
Ring, Christmas bells,
Sound far and near,
The birth day of Jesus is here.
Herald the news
To old and young,
Tell it to all
In ev'ry tongue.
Ring, Christmas bells,
Toll loud and long,
Your message sweet
Peel and prolong.
Come, all ye people,
Join in the singing,
Repeat the story
Told by the ringing. Ring!
Christmas bells, Ring,
Christmas bells.
Loudly proclaim Ring!
Christmas bells. Ring!
With one accord,
The happy tale;
Welcome the Lord!
Ring, Christmas bells,
Ring, Christmas bells,
Merrily ring,
Tell all the world Jesus is King!

Another example is Michael W. Smith - Christmastime :

This lovely sounding song is yet another attempt to make Christmas merry through music.  The lyrics at Christmastime Lyrics - Michael W. Smith are nevertheless lacking in any real substance concerning the cause for Christmastime to be merry.  Apart from the real reason for the birth of Jesus to the world, His rule as King is a terrifying thing.  People turn to Jesus as King with the false notion that they are able to make Him King in their hearts and lives.  And so they find themselves trapped in charismatic hyperbole that they seek after all their lives.  They find a sense of peace for as long as they are able to convince themselves that they actually do honor Jesus as their King and Lord.  However, their own awareness of their sinfulness cannot be forever suppressed.  This leads to despair, sometimes even suicide.

But Jesus comes as a very different King than people choose to make Him.  He comes not with bright lights and flashy glory.  He comes not in hyperbolic singing.  He comes not through the giving of toys and presents from Santa under a glistening tree.  Neither does He come with demands to be worshiped.

Rather, Jesus comes as the King who gives Himself for us.  He comes through the humble vessel of a bloody womb, blood from which He Himself had to be cleansed and purified, the blood of Mary’s sin that she inherited from Adam, the same sin that inheres in our flesh.  He comes at the end of His ministry among the Jews humbly riding on an ass, even the foal of an ass, being carried as the King who is the final sacrifice for the sin of the world.

Today He comes to those who gather to receive Him according to His promise to give His very body and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.  There He comes under the true Christ Mass gifts of bread and wine that we bring to His Table and He blesses with His gift of Himself in His true body and blood of our salvation and regenerated life in His Holy Communion.

Here is encountered the King of Glory offering us His gifts under the tree of salvation, a tree where the garland is a crown of thorns beaten deeply into  His bleeding scalp, a tree where the only light shining is the light of His love for sinful mankind and the glint that shines from His bright blood flowing down the trunk of the cross, blood shining with His own life that flows for the life of all who will be baptized into Him.

This King comes not to demand that we make Him King of our hearts and lives, but to enter into us through His means of grace to make His home our hearts, not by our choice and not by our commitment to Him, but by His choice and His commitment to us.  He pours Himself out to us and into us and as He creates faith in us, He begins to rule our hearts and minds through the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.  Then we finally know the Joy to the World that He comes to bring.  Then we realize that the curse is but God’s gracious call to stop seeking to make Jesus Lord so that we may receive Him as He comes to us as the one who truly is Lord of all.  Then our Joy no longer is something that we must produce through hyperbole, but the heavenly gift of Jesus who comes to us and produces in us what we cannot produce for ourselves.

Then our emotions are not the cause of our joy but merely reflections of the Joy who is come to the world to redeem the world and save the world from the curse of sin in the world.

Thus this season of Advent is a truly wonderful time of preparation for the celebration of the Christ Mass and these Advent hymns proclaim that for which we expectantly await:

"Come, Thou Precious Ransom, Come"

1. Come, Thou precious Ransom, come,
Only Hope for sinful mortals!
Come, O Savior of the world!
Open are to Thee all portals.
Come, Thy beauty let us see;
Anxiously we wait for Thee.

2. Enter now my waiting heart,
Glorious King and Lord most holy.
Dwell in me and ne'er depart,
Though I am but poor and lowly.
Ah, what riches will be mine
When Thou art my Guest Divine!

3. My hosannas and my palms
Graciously receive, I pray Thee;
Evermore, as best I can,
Savior, I will homage pay Thee,
And in faith I will embrace,
Lord, Thy merit through Thy grace.

4. Hail, hosanna, David's Son!
Help, Lord, hear our supplication!
Let Thy kingdom, scepter, crown,
Bring us blessing and salvation,
That forever we may sing:
Hail, hosanna! to our King.

"Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel"

1. Oh, come, Oh, 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.

2. Oh, 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.

3. Oh, come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

4. Oh, come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home:
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

"Once He Came in Blessing"

1. Once He came in blessing,
All our ills redressing;
Came in likeness lowly,
Son of God most holy;
Bore the cross to save us,
Hope and freedom gave us.

2. Still He comes within us,
Still His voice would win us
From the sins that hurt us;
Would to Truth convert us
From our foolish errors
Ere He comes in terrors.

3. Thus, if thou hast known Him,
Not ashamed to own Him,
But wilt trust Him boldly
Nor dost love Him coldly,
He will then receive thee,
Heal thee, and forgive thee.

4. He who thus endureth
Bright reward secureth.
Come, then, O Lord Jesus,
From our sins release us;
Let us here confess Thee
Till in heaven we bless Thee.

Yes, indeed!  Tis the Season!

God bless us every one!

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