Sing to the Lord a new song. How often, as we go through the seasons of Advent and Christmas, do we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle and to-do lists and traditions that we simply sing the same old song? It’s easy to almost add worship to our checklist: just another tradition, just another thing to get done in this time with so much to do.
Traditions are wonderful, and there is something powerful in joining in with the same songs that we always have sung, and that those who have gone on before sang, but how much attention do we pay to the meaning of what we are singing?
The psalmist calls us to always sing a new song in our hearts, to confront yet again the wonder and mystery that is the cornerstone of our faith. It’s a reminder that there is nothing ordinary in what we wait for during Advent.
The Lord is coming—simply because he promised us that he would. And he’s coming to change the world. The rivers will clap their hands, all of nature will rejoice, because this is truly an earth-shattering event.
The Lord is coming—and the earth shall rejoice, not just for the tiny baby soon to be born, but also for the radical adult He will become. Everything’s about to change; are you ready? Everything did change; can you feel the earth celebrating?
Sing a new song—this isn’t just the children singing “Away in a Manger;” but it’s also “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates.” Christmas was a miraculous gift, but we miss part of the power if we aren’t also looking ahead to Easter.
One of the most powerful Christmas cantatas I’ve sung was a lovely piece by Pepper Choplin called “Once Upon a Night.” You’re going through all the usual Christmas stuff, the angels, the shepherds, the birth, and then it goes back into the prophecies, and all of a sudden you’re singing “Once upon a tree.” It begins, “Once upon a tree, a good man died, and though He did no crime, He was crucified. If the story ended there, I would have no song to share, but my heart will ever sing the story.”
Lord, help us remember that without the miracle of Easter, Christmas would mean so much less. Keep our eyes forward to what is yet to come, and teach our hearts to always sing the new song. The whole world rejoices in anticipation of Christmas and all its glory. Let us join in the song of the mountains and streams: He is coming! Thanks be to God, now and always. Amen.