I was listening to the radio today with extra-open ears. I like the rock 'n' roll on occasion, and I was flipping through the channels fascinated by all the voices and what they were singing. All the emotion. What I heard when I listened closely was angst. Widespread frustration. That deep kind of expression that can earn a platinum record status overnight because it is speaking a universal cry of the human heart. Whether it's a song about love or pain or betrayal, it seems the more raw the better. I'm not talking about musical style exactly, but rather the emotion expressed overall, through the whole mix of words, instruments, and even rhythm.
I caught a bit of Rihanna's new song. The chorus repeats a single sentence over and over between the fast pulses better suited for a club than my car (btw, Volvo greatly underestimated my love for music, which is why most of my speakers are blown). The repetition hammered it's truth into my heart, "We found love in a hopeless place. We found love in a hopeless place." I'm sure the songwriter didn't intend for me to get this message, but I found myself saying, Yes, we did. Yes, Lord. You came to us, and we found love in this hopeless place.
It's the message of Christmas, isn't it? The holiday, at it's heart, sings hope. Celebrating Christmas is a celebration of grace; God Himself came down and took on flesh, getting dirt between his toes, and bringing love to this hopeless place. He didn't wait until we got better. Or tried harder. Or cared more. He showed up to graciously heal us and reconnect us to Himself. The name Immanuel means "GOD with US." Isn't that incredible?
Rihanna's song's lyrics, like all the others I'd heard, were rife with hopelessness. I heard confusion over one's purpose, the frustration stemming from trying to fill one's emptiness with cheap substitues for love, the stumbling through life searching for Eden again...and, oh, as I though about it, I was humbled! Because I found love in a hopeless place. This place is so desperately hopeless without Jesus. And those around us who don't know Him are perhaps not rock stars, but are expressing that same frustration in so many ways. They need grace. And they need the real Christmas. Not a cheap substitute.
I'm thankful that today, Jesus is readying my heart for the advent of His coming, both the remembering of His first visit that silent night in Bethlehem, and also the anticipation of the second time He'll grace this earth to finally judge and rescue and wash it with peace.
Happy December 1st! Let's ready our hearts for celebrating the greatest act of grace mankind has ever known.
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.