Christmas songs have a way of collecting memories over the years. Held in the vault for all but a limited time of the year, they tend to accumulate memories for better or worse. The first time I noticed this was with the song “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” That’s the song that was playing when I was around 9 years old and heard that the parents of boys at my school had died in a car accident after a night of Christmas caroling. Over 3 decades later, that beautiful song still stirs haunting emotions of that tragedy.
I see this in a significant way now as I listen to Handel’s Messiah and I’m reminded of the phone call I received 10 years ago this week from my mom in the middle of a performance of Messiah telling me my dad was near death. My sorrow is triggered again when I hear Messiah and, yet that music also stirs gratitude for God’s grace.
God’s grace is throughout Messiah as it follows the hope that emerges from hopelessness and then follows the promised Messiah through birth, death, resurrection and consummation. But when I listen to it each December, it also reminds me of God’s grace in what He impressed on me as a dad through my dad’s death.
In his book The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis observed that “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains, ” adding, “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” My pleasures and my conscience had, to a degree, been shaping me as a dad to be engaged in the lives of my young children. But it was in the pain of my dad’s death that I saw more clearly the eternal weight of my commitments as a dad.
That season impressed heavily on me the significance of dad’s making and keeping three simple commitments:
- To provide for your family faithfully–with resources and presence.
- To love your wife and children generously and faithfully.
- To love God foremost and to point your family to eternal life with Him.
It was evident at my dad’s funeral that making and keeping those commitments shapes generations in a way nothing else can. A few years ago, I wrote a series of articles for Boundless webzine called “Presley to Preacher” about my dad’s life as a rock singer turned pastor. Those articles tell about the trajectory my dad was on as a young husband and father and the dramatic difference it made in our family and community when he changed directions.
So the jimmy smith np post below got me thinking: my collection of christmas music sucks hard. i have some gems here and there, but for the most part it's all a bunch of crap.
my wife has the elvis/etta james stuff, i have the classical/chanticleer type stuff. so, it's either goofy fun or "some guy just had a nail driven into each hand and was left to die and praise be unto" stuff. which is funny because religion is simply not a part of my life.
ANYWAY: i'm looking for stuff that makes me think i'm about to get a red rider b-b-gun or pee on the tree on christmas eve
sports canvas wall art
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