Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Programming

At Christmastime, some radio stations modify their musical programming to conform to the season. Most stations assume a secular stance, only occasionally offering a carol with an explicitly Christian message. I confess my preference for “real” Christmas music. At times I’ve contacted station management about their Christmas “lite” offerings, hoping at least for more balance, trying not to sound like Scrooge. Songs about bells, chestnuts, and snow at Christmas may arouse my sense of melody, harmony, and rhythm, but they do not grip my soul very deeply.

The day after Thanksgiving I tuned to one of the Sirius XM classical radio stations. They had just converted their programming to Christmas music--real Christmas music. On that station, “Joy to the World” was elevated above “Happy Holidays.” The soul-stirring message of the Incarnation was arriving from space via satellite technology.

The Incarnation is a cornerstone of Christian theology. It originated in the heart of God and was intended to grip our spirit, soul, and body, our minds and our hearts. The paradox of Divine Being intersecting with humanity is a truth we do not easily grasp. But God’s gift of artistic expression--music set to lyrics--is profoundly effective in bridging the communication gap between the divine and the human.

Christmas music set to text may grip our souls, but there are other truths to contemplate. These include the artistic genius possessed by the most creative and skilled composers and lyricists. Historically, enduring music has been produced by only a small fraction of the human population. But their achievements are now available for all to enjoy. Gifted composers have found ways to share their unique creative skills and spiritual insights with humanity at large. A substantial portion of the population feels ownership of the music. In our day, billions of people are able to access the finest Christmas music through the medium of satellite radio, to name only one. The DuPont Corporation’s trademark slogan “The Miracles of Science” was never more applicable.

As I listen to the highest quality Christmas music performed by skilled musicians, sometimes I am overswept by a sense of worship as I contemplate the Incarnation. The message of the music is inspired by the message of Holy Land events two millennia in the past.

Sirius XM radio is beamed from satellites far out in space, hovering above the earth in a geostationary orbit. Their signals are sent at the speed of light, taking only 0.25 sec to arrive at our receivers on earth. While not technically a “miracle,” this process inspires awe. The real miracle is the reality of the supernatural arrival of Jesus these music channels celebrate this time of year.

One of the greatest Christmas anthems ever written declares, “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity.” Gal. 4:4 (NASB) echoes, “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”