Friday, December 09, 2011

Christmas music or Holiday music?

Last week I shared thoughts about Christmas and the importance of looking forward all the way to the Resurrection. In that post I also shared how I love Christmas music. I have a lot of Christmas music. My wife has placed a moratorium on any further purchases of Christmas music. I like all kinds of Christmas music spanning from the hard driving rock of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra all the way to the very familiar sounds of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Jeremy Dowsett, pastor of Blacksoil in Lansing, MI, recently shared some thoughts on Christmas music. He doesn't like the schlocky, nostalgic stuff that has become the regular fodder on mainstream radio. Rather he sees a deep importance to Christmas music:

But there’s a reason that it’s so bad when Christmas music is bad. And that’s because of the sad irony or the inherent discontinuity of art form and object. See Christmas music is about the Incarnation, the fact that God, the Perfectly Beautiful and Glorious One, united himself to the stuff of earth. The Most High and the blood and the mud became one on the first Christmas. And so Christmas is about the elevation of the created realm, the sacralizing of the profane, the taking up of earthly “stuff” into the life of God.

So any human creation attempting to give glory to the God who imbued his Creation with his glory should be…well, glorious, right? Schlocky Christmas music isn’t just bad, it’s untrue–at least if we accept Marshall McLuhan’s famous dictum that the medium is the message.

But when Christmas music is good, it’s soooo good. The lyrics of the classic Christmas hymns and carols are some of the best theologizing and spiritual thinking that the church has to offer. The themes of Jesus’ kingship and his reign over the earth, the response of the whole creation to his Lordship, the kenosis (look it up), the Lukan emphasis on liberation and the defeat of our enemies.

While I do like the nostalgic and schlocky at times, I have to agree. The Christmas music that I keep coming back to is the stuff that is both musically beautiful as well as theologically deep. Christmas is the one of the few times of year that Christ is interjected seamlessly into our culture. We as Christians should be unapologetically Christian at this time of the year. Our choice of music can either be glorifying of Christmas and all of its true meaning or it can be glorifying of all that the world has turned the holiday season into.

Some of my favorite Christmas music:
Casting Crowns' Peace On Earth

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