Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Why Music is Important at Christmas

It is hard to underestimate the importance and power of music.  Why is that?

1. Music (and poetry) is the language of the heart, the emotions.  God wants to touch us in these areas, not just the intellect.  About a third of the Bible is written in poetry.  Music is a powerful way of opening the heart.

2. It is easier to retain words and truths that have been put to music.  This has been proven, and a good teacher will have music and poetry as part of their armoury.  Profound truth is frequently expressed in Poetry by prophets and teachers alike in scripture.

3. Music is a huge part of popular culture and a multi £billion industry.

So even though verse is less common in the New Testament, there is plenty of bursting into song at the time Jesus is born!

Firstly, we have Mary spontaneously proclaiming:

"My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour
For He has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed..."

Luke 1:46ff

Then, when Zechariah's tongue is loosed, he prophesies:

"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For he has visited and redeemed his people
and he has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the throne of his servant David,,,

Luke 1:67ff

Then, amazingly, a host of angels get in on the act in the fields outside of Bethlehem:

"Glory to God in the Highest
and on earth, peace among
those with whom he is pleased"

Luke 2:14

Then we have Simeon the prophet, when..

"he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
  “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
  for my eyes have seen your salvation
  that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
  a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”

The incarnation, the time time of Jesus' first arrival on earth as a human being was a time of great rejoicing in heaven and on earth among those who knew the significance of what was happening.

For Christmas 2015, I though I would share with you a You Tube clip.  This is a Christmas flash mob visit to a shopping centre in Beirut, Lebanon.

I chose this for several reasons, not least because I love the peoples of the Middle East and rejoice to see the Gospel proclaimed there in any form at all.  The carol, "God rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is one I like, because even though Christ was not actually 'born on Christmas Day' as we have it, there is a powerful gospel message in the song which I like:

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A sad day

This is a sad Christmas in some ways for Sunderland.

Bridge Books and Music is closing for good.

There is now no Christian bookshop in the City of Sunderland.

I realise that times change and people largely use Amazon and download books onto their kindles.  But there's no substitute for browsing... or exchanging secondhand books... or chatting away to Dave or Lynne.

We need places like this.

Bridge Books is not just a bookshop.  It's a safe place.  Somewhere to get fellowship, talk and pray over a coffee through the day.  When the churches are shut and locked up for around six days a week, Lynne's shop is there.  But not any more.  Where do we go now?

Thanks for all your faithful years Lynne.  And everyone else involved in the shop.

Anyone want to open a Christian bookshop or coffee shop?