Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Music is more than Just a Marketing Tool

By Steve Valenzuela
Director, Small Faith Communities

The holiday music began early this year on the radio (way before Thanksgiving) and at first I was annoyed. My inner Grinch came through and in a John the Baptist like prophetic speech, I leapt to Advent’s defense. Still, I started to listen to the music on the radio and heard that the local station thought we needed the music a little earlier this year. The downturn, the loss of so many jobs and homes meant many of us would not have the kind of Christmas we had given our families and children and grandchildren in the recent past. My green Grinch-like heart experienced a little metanoia (conversion). I thought the station manager, even though I knew Christmas music brings in great ratings, was right. We as a people, even the faith community, need the hope and vision of Advent and Christmas this year in ways stronger than other years in recent history.

Music, even silly Christmas songs, hold memories, hopes and dreams for the kind of world God envisions. His plan for humanity is one of peace, harmony, fullness of life and completeness, a world where all children have enough to eat, a warm and safe place to live, the elderly are honored for their experience and wisdom and all families can provide for their basic needs including health care and education. The struggles of this past year are not God’s desire for us, they are signs of the humanity’s refusal to join in God’s plans. Unfortunately many of us have and will suffer the cost of the social and personal sins of individuals and institutions that created the current economic downturn. The truth is our choices do matter and hopefully this hard lesson will not be lost on us too soon. In 2010, a good resolution might be to keep up the changes we’ve made due to economic crisis.

In my household, at the writing of this article during the Second Week, there is an Advent wreath on display, a few of the early bird Christmas cards and a wonderful but empty Christmas Cookie Jar. No tree or lights yet. The holiday music is playing though, and the sounds of Broadway-like songs celebrating winter, spiritual carols announcing Christ’s birth and playful jingles about flirting with Santa or rocking around the tree bring a smile to my face on these seasonally appropriate cold mornings.

As I was listening to the various music on the radio, I noted that I have not yet heard this year the one Christmas song that I believe captures well God’s vision for the coming of the Messiah, Emmanuel/God-With-Us that Advent prepares and Christmas celebrates:

Grown-up Christmas List
Do you remember me
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you with childhood fantasies
Well I'm all grown-up now
And still need help somehow
I'm not a childBut my heart still can dream
So here's my lifelong wish
My grown-up Christmas list
Not for myself
But for a world in need

[Chorus:]No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
Everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath our tree
Well heaven surely knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal a hurting human soul


What is this illusion called
The innocence of youth
Maybe only in our blind belief
Can we ever find the truth


For Sharing and Reflection…

What is on your grown up Christmas list? How will you help bring it about in 2010?

1 comment:

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