What’s your favorite Christmas song? Not hymn—we’ll get to the hymns in excess—but the songs that speak to you about Christmas that don’t necessarily speak about Christ? I have a few. The first is Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, because I’ve always loved Leroy Anderson, and the trumpet player whinnying like a horse reminds of my trumpet-playing step-dad, Malcolm. (Would you like to hear a really cool arrangement of it? Click here (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZggJNsAuIw).) The second is Chiron Beta Prime, by Jonathan Coulton, because it combines ridiculous sci-fi with seasons’ greetings. (You can find it here (link to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3DyxaCYlfg), if you want it.) And the third is For What It’s Worth, by Buffalo Springfield.
Wait, what? That’s not a Christmas song.
It depends how you define Christmas music; it depends on how you define the difference between secular and religious, too. My friend the Rev. Dan Kovaly and I spend a lot of time curating music for youth camps and worship that aren’t specifically written for churchy purposes in mind but still speak to the heart, will, mind and love of God. A good reminder of why Christmas subverts and changes the world was offered by Stephen Stills, accidentally or not—with battle lines being drawn, men with guns over there, thousands of people in the street, and paranoia striking deep, we have to be patient in hope, seek peace in reconciliation, challenge our fear with joy, and wisely love boldly.
Christmas matters. It changed the world, it changes the world, and we’re invited to participate in it. I look forward to seeing on Sunday in worship, and at 7 p.m. on Wednesday for the candles and hymns and Christ. The light shines on the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome the light.