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Celebrate The Day

One of my responsibilities as a blogger is to start dialogue and conversation on controversial topics.  In order to effectively set up these conversations, it is important that I remain truthful, open, and honest.  In that spirit, I have a two confessions to make.  Here’s the first:  I am a choir boy.  

 

When I was in elementary school, my music teacher, Mrs. Neidringhaus (who, coincidentally, just became my Facebook friend last week), suggested I join a local professional boys choir, The All American Boys Chorus.  Lured by the promise of international travel and missed school days, I auditioned.  I was never really a singer before that moment, but that started a new journey for me as a chorister. 

 

AABC Group Photo 

I continued singing after my voice changed at my high school, college, and now, even my workplace.  (My one singing regret - telling people that I lettered in choir in high school.  Good thing that secret hasn’t gotten out!  Oh, wait, people are actually reading this thing?  Crap.)

 

So, here’s my second confession:  I start listening to Christmas music on November 1st.  

 

I know what you’re thinking - “Geez, Jim, that’s only the day after Halloween!”  or “You’re the reason our malls and stores feel justified putting out Christmas displays in August!”.  

 

I actually blame my early Christmas music habit on being a chorister.  Understandably, the holidays are a busy time for most choirs - with a whole catalog of Christmas songs to learn.  So, most groups I sang in began practicing Christmas carols in the months of August and September.  By the time November rolled around, I was ready to get a jump on the Christmas music scene in full force, since it had already been hiding in the background of my life for two months!

 

This early exposure to Christmas music comes at a high cost though - Christmas music numbness.  I sang many songs proclaiming the birth of Christ and His impact on us in many secular choirs for many years.  Before I was a Christian, even.  And the familiarity of those songs has watered down the message and impact the words should have on my soul.  I’ll listen to “O Holy Night” and admire the pretty tune, but completely ignore how the song beautifully lays out the awe-inspiring worship of our new Savior - and the “chains he shall break”.  “Silent Night” is reduced to a simple lullaby - sung in the peacefulness of a winter evening, instead of towards an infant Christ, lying in the manger, in complete admiration.

 

The thing is, many of us feel the same way, whether we grew up singing in choirs or not.  Christmas is so commercialized, so pervasive, it’s easy for the message of Christ’s birth to be lost in any number of ways.  It is important to realize our apathy towards Christmas - and work to find ways to counteract that tendency in our spirit.  

 

There are many ways to counteract our Christmas apathy.  Focusing on volunteerism, focusing on the amount of quality time spent with friends and family instead of the quantity of gifts, and creating space to pray and reflect.  Donating to various non-profits is also a great way to give the spirit of the season.  In fact, to read more about how to “Give Christmas Away”, check out fellow ConversantLife blogger, Carrie Ngangang’s post on the topic here.

 

For me, this issue started with Christmas music, so it’s fitting that I have gravitated to a Christmas song to counteract my own apathy.  I stumbled across a modern song, "Celebrate The Day", written and performed by Relient K. Since it’s not a standard carol, the words don’t have to fight through centuries of variation and overuse - allowing the true message to shine through.  When this song comes up on my iPod, I’ve made a point to listen to it twice.  The first time is to let the truth and beauty of the words truly sink in.  The second time is to sing along myself as an act of worship.  (To hear the song check them out over at www.imeem.com.)  

 

The true reason for Christmas can be summarized in this lyric, sung towards the end of the song:

 

And I, I celebrate the day

That You were born to die

So I could one day pray for You to save my life 

 

We're not just celebrating winter, or gifts, or even the birth of a cute baby.  No, we're celebrating the beginning of a life that conquers death so we can be reconciled with God, the Father, who created us. 

 

Listening to this song is just one way I can cling to the beauty and meaning of this season.  What are some other ideas out there for fighting through the apathy of Christmas?

 

 

Comments

Comment #1: It's not that difficult to spot you in a line up of the Vienna Boys Choir

Comment #2: KOST 103 (My official holiday music station) tells me when I can official begin listening to Christmas music.

Comment #3: I can't tell you how many times I've attempted to sing one of my favorite Christmas songs "O Holy Night" and how many times I've failed to sing more than 8 words correctly. Not only does it show that I don't know the lyrics, but I've failed to understand the true message. Thanks for giving me a friendly kick-in-the-butt, Jim! ;)

Hi "Guest"....

#1 - You're absolutely right. In fact, I took some publicity photos when I was with them that they still use to this day. (Also, it's the All American Boys Chorus, not Vienna, that'd be pretty darn prestigious though!). That photo was taken at the beautiful Lake Louis in BC, Canada...

#2 - Doesn't KOST also start playing holiday music the day after Halloween?

#3 - Grow up singing in choir, and I guarantee you'll know almost every word and lyric to every Christmas song known to man (except, as I found out tonight during a choir performance - It Came Upon A Midnight Clear. Go figure!)

Comment #1a: All super heroes have a secret identity. Thanks for helping me keep mine a secret too!

Comment #1b: I was actually going to write that you were taking a picture with the All American Boys Chorus... not knowing that that was actually a group.... but I though Vienna was way funnier.

Comment #2: KOST can start playing holiday music in July and it won't matter to me. You want to celebrate the 4th of July, KOST, by playing Winter Wonderland?!?! OKAY!!

Comment #1a1: No problem, that's what I'm here for!

Comment #1a1.1: I think I need to flesh out my super hero identity.

Comment #2a1: The way Christmas season's start date keeps moving back earlier and earlier, that really wouldn't surprise me. I recently heard "Proud to Be An American" at the local CVS (while walking down the Christmas aisle). It was a strange mash up of holidays -but it worked!

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You must really have a good voice. Would love to hear it. - Carmack Moving and Storage

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Grace makes beauty out of ugly things. I'm no relationship expert, but when my marriage fell apart, God's grace was extended through His community. This is the place to explore that community together.


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