A friend sent me an article from a satirical Lutheran newsletter called “The Holy Herald” entitled “Hundreds Hospitalized After New Hymn Introduced in Church”. Here’s an excerpt:
Huron, SD – Hundreds were hospitalized and scores more traumatized for life in the wake of a disastrous hymn roll-out this past Sunday. First responders were overwhelmed by the chaotic scene…. Inside the sanctuary, hundreds were incapacitated, many still frozen with their hands clutched over their ears in a vain attempt to shut out the unfamiliar tune.
Christmas is the time when we most want to sing old songs. Some of us come to church on Christmas Eve particularly for them only to be accosted a third of the way through the service by Psalm 96. The Psalmist has been dead for about 2,500 years but that doesn’t stop her from barging into church and bossing us around.
“Sing God a new song!” She says. “God’s bored of your tired playlist.”
The oceans and their fantastical inhabitants have been singing without pause for billions of years. Right now the whales are chanting across thousands of miles while schools of anchovies like living tinsel are doing interpretive dances for God alone. There are whistling fields from Indiana to Kathmandu with grasshoppers bowing their back legs against their wings like violins. The earth is alive with the music of joy.
And what about you? The psalmist, like a conductor points her baton into your ribs. “That’s your cue. Sing! And make it good- this is for the Lord.”
But what song do you have in you? What did you sing the last time you spun around fast enough that the ground went sideways and you fell down laughing? What were you humming the last time you climbed a tree or opened your mouth to the falling snow?
I don’t remember either. I can’t trace my way back to where I left those new songs, buried under the years of filing taxes and being in charge and grieving my dead. All of that can make you misplace your song- and then the sick joke from Kim Jong-un about sending us a Christmas present and the fires in Australia and the Rainforest and with everyone in Jersey City still stunned in the wake of a massacre, remembering the families of Officer Seals, Mindy Ferencz, Moshe Deutsch, Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, Francine Graham and David Anderson. What must this Hanukkah and Christmas be like for them? These are the things that take your song away from you a breath at a time.
But the psalmist’s world was no less frightening or painful and your mood has no bearing. There’s a baby in that barn and he needs you. At Christmas there’s just us and God alone, in all vulnerability and nakedness, in the world’s dark reality. And God hasn’t come to us with any answers at Christmas. Instead, God comes with so many needs.
God needs skin-to-skin contact and the warmth of your arms. God needs your particular smell. Entranced, God locks eyes on you and coos. He needs nothing but all of the love in you, even the love you forgot or never knew you had. What your mind couldn’t find your body will remember. As you rock Him your song will be there. It’s a lullaby for God.
All of Creation is waiting. Christmas won’t happen without your witness.