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“Singing the 'old' songs and hearing the 'old' stories is what I like to do most,” Sylvester told me, “because they have a way of touching your heart.”
I agreed with him, BUT told him that the “oldies” I most appreciated were a couple thousand years older than those he enjoyed the most. Age not withstanding, I told my friend that my “oldies” touched our hearts very deeply, as they also told of God’s love for the darkened world. Let me tell you of my old Christmas songs; and if you ask, I can even sing them for you.
First on my “old oldies” list is a song that Mary (Jesus’ mom) sang to her relative, Elizabeth. They both were pregnant and filled with the expectant joy of their condition. Mary sang:
"I’m bursting with God-news;
"I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
"God took one good look at me, and look what happened – I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
"What God has done for me will never be forgotten, the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
"His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him.
"He bared his arm and showed his strength, scattered the bluffing braggarts.
"He knocked tyrants off their high horses, pulled victims out of the mud.
"The starving poor sat down to a banquet; the callous rich were left out in the cold.
"He embraced his chosen child, Israel; he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
"It’s exactly what he promised, beginning with Abraham and right up to now." (Luke 1:46 ff)
With Mary’s help, God has done the unforgettable! God has taken on the powers of evil, and with mercy beyond compare, he has brought salvation as he promised. What good news that is; what “God-news” has come to us these Christmas days. Here is a song to dance to; a song bursting with joy. God’s embrace, Jesus, is love that will never let us go!
Another really “oldie” of my Christmas favorites was presented, Luke tells us, by a man named Simeon. He was way up in years but sensed God would not let him die before he has a chance to sing to Jesus. When Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to their church to present him to the Lord, Simeon swooped down upon them, taking the child to his heart and sang the promised one a song I and many in the church sing each day at bed time. It's based on Luke 2:29-32.
"God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised!
"With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation; it’s now out in the open for everyone to see:
A God-revealing light to the nations of the world, and the glory of your people Israel."
It is hard – if not impossible – to see through the darkness of our p`ath to the sure and certain hope-fulfilled things that God has for those who walk by faith and not by sight. Jesus is the light we need as we walk in the valley of death’s shadow; even dimmed eyes can see the way with Jesus in their arms. This child in Simeon’s arms is the promised peace of heaven; the garden restored.
May the songs we like, old or new, that proclaim the message of God’s love, fill us, like Mary, with Jesus and his love. Give us the “God-revealing” one to know that God is with us forever.
Come let us adore Christ the Lord as we offer our songs to the holy child of Bethlehem this Sunday with our community of faith.
(The New Testament quotations are taken from the translation of Eugene H. Peterson, The Message.)