One of my favorite aspects of the pre-Christmas season is listening to holiday music on the radio. My car radio is tuned almost exclusively to a local Christian music station, so my Christmas tunes are not your typical over-played melodies by today’s pop stars. 80% of it is spiritually inspired, and much of it is original, not just remakes of classic church carols. Every year an artist will introduce a song that really moves me, and this year, that song was Noel, written by Chris Tomlin and performed by Lauren Daigle.
What I love most about this song, beyond the haunting echo of the piano, smooth enveloping of the cello line, and raw power of Daigle’s vocals (my musical goal is to be able to sing like that) is the understanding that Christmas is not all joy and candy canes. We Christians just love to say, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” but how often do we stop to consider the reason for Jesus?
“Born to suffer, born to save, born to save us from the grave.”
Christ came to show us how to live, but he also came to die, and to show us how to die. Whether living or dying, it’s all about setting aside my ego (my Edging God Out). Without understanding at heart level my desperate need to be saved, Christmas is just the celebration of another baby being born. It makes about as much sense as needing a commercial holiday in order to give gifts to the people I love.
The “Noel” invites us to see what God has done. He was born into human likeness, and sacrificed himself as a perpetual and lasting sin offering. Our culture may not have a deep appreciation for this concept, as it’s been thousands of years since we routinely made blood sacrifices to any kind of god. But we certainly know a thing or two about punishing ourselves. New Years is often the season of self-imposed fasting in the name of health, to atone for our holiday binging. Young people cut themselves in an attempt to relieve their anxiety over not achieving perfection. Many of us endure abusive behavior from destructive people in our lives because some part of us believes we deserve it. Guilt and shame, whether rational or distorted out of proportion, is a heavy weight to bear, and many of us turn to prescriptions, alcohol, food, sex, gambling, excessive and obsessive behaviors to help us manage the burden. The Noel is that we don’t have to turn to those things, which will always fall short and ultimately bring death to us and our relationships. We can turn to the one who was born to carry our burden for us.
See what God has done. It is a story of amazing love.