This holiday season is honestly, a strange one! As families navigate spending time together over zoom calls and have virtual mashed potato wars with relatives, we long to be together again. Maybe you can relate with me in loving snippets of normalcy, like walking through a Christmas tree lot, experiencing holiday cheer from bell ringers outside a grocery store, and hearing All I Want For Christmas Is You for the hundredth time on the radio. Christmas traditions have never felt so comforting.
A favorite family tradition of mine is throwing on Christmas music, while decorating the tree together. Sounds magical, but it really looks like my family arguing over which decorations go where, willingly succumbing to my dad stringing all the lights, and watching my mom pull out ornament after ornament telling stories, as my brother and I goof-off down memory lane.
Yearly, a curious conversation takes place in what Christmas music to listen to as a family. I often vote for secular Christmas music, someone else raises a hand for classical Christmas oldies, and my dad pleas for traditional Christmas hymns. Last Christmas, I clearly remember the great debate of which genre to listen to, as my dad was particularly vocal in his preference. I remember sitting untangling the lights in an ordinary moment of decorating, when he turned my attention towards the Messiah and meaning of Christmas celebration. My heart began to soften as he shared why listening to What Child Is This?, Joy to the World, and Mary Did You Know? impacted him so much, keeping his gaze on Christ during this season.
The truth of the birth of Jesus was the focal point of Christmas in my heart and mind, but somewhere along the way, singing and celebrating to the world’s version of Christmas became my holiday praise. Quickly, I was convicted through the sharpening of the Holy Spirit, when I realized I loved listening to secular Christmas music much more than the songs my dad loved of baby Jesus, our precious Immanuel. His heart was true in praise, while in the subtleties of my heart, I saw my motivation to celebrate like the world does in Christmas songs with the coming of Santa Claus, finding love at Christmastime, and receiving amazing presents. What a stark contrast for believers when celebrating Christmas: The coming of Jesus Christ, growing in our love for God, and receiving the gift of Salvation!
Through that one moment of my dad sharing his heart and conviction with Christmas songs, I saw a glimpse of the Father’s heart for our worship during Christmastime and that is the importance of singing and saying truth. This year’s gathering will be different for sure, but now more than ever, we have an opportunity to choose the type of music we bring into our homes. I have found a new joy in learning to celebrate the birth of Jesus in all kinds of Christmas music. When singing classics like It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year, I sing in worship because it IS the most wonderful time of the year, due to the birth of the Prince of Peace. If your heart is in the right place, your worship is in the right place (except for songs like I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus that just doesn’t make the cut – ever).
This Christmas, I pray that you find the joy in glorifying God through music!