Summary: When we are humble the Holy One can use us.
Rev. Brian Bill
I had the joy on Friday of being one of the chaperones for some of the junior highers at Pontiac Christian School while they rang bells for the Salvation Army at County Market. Joy is the right word because for 2 ½ hours this group of girls, along with Barbara Billerbeck, sang every Christmas carol they knew.
It was fun watching people come out of the store with no smile on their faces but when they heard the carols of Christmas, they immediately started smiling. One commented, “This is the best thing I’ve seen today.” Another said, “This makes me happy.” At least three individuals started dancing. Many sang along with the songs.
One woman came out of the store and immediately started crying. She came over and put some money in the bucket and thanked the girls. She then moved about 10 yards away and kept crying. She came up again and put some more money in. Now she was smiling ear to ear. When we found out it was her birthday, the girls serenaded her with “Happy Birthday.” She cried some more and put some more money in.
During this entire time, the girls only took one five-minute break. When they were gone, I rang the bell and all the people went back to not smiling and being Grinch-like with their money. Of course, I was too self-conscious to sing. The girls came back and told me that they had been asked to sing inside the store! As soon as they came out the smiles came back and the money started flowing again. I just slithered into the background.
I was reminded again of the power of music…especially at Christmas time!
Last week we began with some music clips and had you guess the name of some popular Christmas songs. Since you didn’t do very well with that, I came up with an easier Christmas Carol quiz.
1. What’s the most-often played and best-selling Christmas song of all time? White Christmas.
2. Of the top-ten most popular Christmas songs in our culture, which one has a spiritual theme? According to worldofchristmas.net, there’s just one. Here’s their list:
1. White Christmas
2. Last Christmas
4. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
5. Jingle Bell Rock
6. The Christmas Song
7. Snoopy’s Christmas
8. Here Comes Santa Claus
9. Little Drummer Boy
10. Donde Esta Santa Claus
That’s right. It’s the Little Drummer Boy. Amidst all the pa rum pum pums, we hear about honoring the King with our finest gifts and Mary nodding while the drummer boy plays his best for Him.
I read this week that more and more radio stations have been switching their formats to all-Christmas, all the time. According to Arbitron, it’s not unusual for ratings to double once a station makes the switch. The Hollywood Reporter, in its December 9th issue, said that it makes a lot of sense because “People who find the station often stick around after the holidays and discover a new favorite station.”
Music about Christ’s birth should be much more than just a clever marketing scheme during the holiday season. By the way, I had lunch with Willard Baker this week and he pulled a card out of his pocket that he made up to give to people when they say, “Happy Holidays.” Here’s what it says: “Don’t you mean, ‘Merry Christmas’? ‘Tis the season to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.”
Can you imagine Christmas without carols? What a tragedy it would be if there were no songs to announce the Savior’s coming or if they were all just about snow or reindeer or jingle bells. As we continue in our series called, “The Songs of Christmas,” today we’re going to listen in to the lyrics of Mary’s Music, which is perhaps the most well-known song of Christmas in Luke’s gospel. It’s my hope that after hearing her music, you’ll stick with the Scriptures and discover some other favorites. But before we do that, let’s just admit that Mary is often misunderstood.
The Overestimated Mary
Mary plays two widely divergent roles among Catholics and Protestants. Some of you know that I’ve been in both camps – I was raised Catholic and now I’m a Protestant.
It seems to me that many Catholics overestimate the role of Mary. According to Pope Pius, IX, “God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation.” Another Pope put it this way: “It is the will of God that we should have nothing which has not passed through the hands of Mary…The Blessed Virgin Mary is to be called Queen not only on account of her divine motherhood but also because by the will of God she had a great part in the work of our salvation…she co-operated in our redemption.” (Pius, XII).