Christmas, Death

There is so much passion in the song that I’ve been listening to all afternoon as I continue to scramble to get done with all of the work I’d like to accomplish before the holiday season begins. I’m so blessed and incredibly happy with the professional success that the Lord has allowed me to meet with this past year. I know that if “the Lord doesn’t build the house, it doesn’t get built.” I’m paraphrasing that passage, but I think it’s in line with what Solomon meant.

It’s a bit sublime. Just trying to think through the words I want to use here, ironic doesn’t cut it. Neither does interesting, or funny, or coincidental. The word is sublime. There is nothing so full of death as Christmas. The moment you separate death from Christmas, you lose all meaning. There has never been a child born on this earth that was predetermined to die. Baby Jesus was destined to suffer death and hell (literally). Martin Luther wrote a great little book on Christmas that details how important it is for Christians to see the “grave” when they see the “stable.”

That’s what’s sublime about this holiday. We look for the swaddling clothes, the beauty of the angels announcing reconciliation to the world, to sinners, of which I am the worst, and the loving gifts of the magi who come into the story later. It’s beautiful, but we see the shadow of that miserable cross.

There is a new project that is getting started by confessional Lutherans in the church in which I am a member (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod). The website is called Bread for Beggars, and I have never been so proud to be a small part of something wonderful like this before. It’s a place where good music and art can be curated so that what is good is separated from what often infiltrates Christian music. We don’t have something like this, and I see the potential in developing it for the benefit of the kingdom of God.

So here’s what’s sublime about the whole thing and how I want to tie this all up thematically. All afternoon while I’ve been working away at my day job at Atilus, I’ve been listening to the song “Hallelujah by the band Cloverton.” The song is beautiful. The lyrics tell the story about how Christ came into the world to die. Hallelujah literally means “praise the Lord.” The joy that this song brings me is beyond me. It’s like the weight of all the world has been lifted off of my shoulders and placed on the shoulders of a baby. A “lamb prepared” for me.

Take a moment and listen to the song and tell me what you think. I believe it’ll move you to understand what I’m talking about when I write “sublime.” There’s nothing quite like music to explain the beauty and majesty of a God that sent his Son into the world to die for sinners like us. It’s simple. It’s sublime. It’s the real truth of Christmas, wrapped in death, but offering life to us through the victory and the resurrection.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah!

2 Comments on “Christmas, Death

  1. The version of this song is raw and beautiful and is particularly poignant given the Sandy Hook tragedy. Thank you for sharing it and letting me experience this song in a whole new way. Our precious Savior born in a manger to die for our sins…..Hallelujah.

  2. You are so right. Do we really picture the reality of what happened that night when Jesus was born or do we see a cute manger scene? Would any woman alive want to give birth in a barn? Where was the water? Food? Bathroom? Yet Jesus, the King of all Creation, came into our world to love and serve us with the greatest gift possible. The gift of grace and mercy, love and forgiveness.

    If the author of all creation did not write himself into our world and our hearts we would never know him and we would be still dead in our sins. Every author is unknown by the characters in his book unless he makes himself a character and writes himself into the book. Jesus, our creator, didn’t just come into the world, he came poor and died innocent, He took our guilty place. He lived only to love us and still does.

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