For the last several weeks we have been hearing and singing the “songs of the season,” which in our time has come to be a strange mixture of both traditional and contemporary, sacred and secular. All of them together contribute to creating a different spirit than exists during the other months of the year. This year I have been drawn to two more recent such songs, both of which I have viewed and listened to often in the last few weeks.
“Mary, Did You Know” (lyrics by Mark Lowry, music by Buddy Greene) has been around for more than twenty years and recorded by many. The questions posed in that song remind us that while we may get caught up in the Bethlehem-manger-shepherds story, the baby does grow up to walk on water, heal the sick, and is “the great I am” and “has come to make you new.” If you have not seen it, check out the YouTube video of Pentatonix singing this one.
“A Baby Changes Everything” (written by Faith Hill) invites us not only to remember the story of Mary and Joseph, but also to experience the life-changing gift of God’s love and mercy. The baby born in a manger in Bethlehem indeed changes everything. Check out the YouTube video of Faith Hill singing her song with scenes from The Nativity Story connecting the lyrics.
But for all the songs ever written for this holy season, none compare to the first one sung by angels in the vicinity of Bethlehem. First the angel brought the message: “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you – wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11, CEB) The great “I Am” has come in the flesh that transforms our lives and changes all of history. With that news announced, the night was filled with the sound of an angel chorus: “Glory to God I heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” (Luke 2:14, CEB) “Peace on earth” is our prayer, our hope, our longing – this year as much as any year.
I pray that the song of the angels will touch your hearts and stir your spirits this Christmas. I wish for all a “wonderful and joyous” Christmas and a blessed new year.
-Bishop Larry Goodpaster
Bishop Larry Goodpaster is the Resident Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church