The Music of the Incarnation: the Movement from Advent to Christmas
Advent comes in movements like a profoundly stirring symphony. The music curves in and out of emotions ranging from mournful cries to sweeping victories, as does the gospel. Listen. Still yourself. Enter into the sweet heavenly song playing this Advent.
Movement One : Pining for His presence
Imagine first the silence; the silence between testaments, four hundred years of waiting on tiptoe for the Lord of All to renew life and bring hope. Where is He? Our hearts learn to hold space open for the sound of the Master’s voice, to pay attention, to wait for Him.
Then there is a singular sound that breaks the silence, the sound of the Old Testament prophets testifying that the Christ is coming, that He is real, that He saves, that He is God’s Man on the earth and for the salvation of earth. Emmanuel, God with us, is coming!
A tremendous expectation seizes us, because during our silence we have come to terms with our humanity: all is not well. We look around and see how fallen we are: wars, discord, death, manipulation, lies, brokenness, self-centered living. We are homesick for heaven. How desperately we need a Savior, and how we long for Him! Will He come today? The prophets bring us hope, expectation, and God’s faithfulness.
Movement Two : Mary — I will
A soloist enters. She’s a young woman, dear and devout, and her melody is strong and lovely, though singular. She casts her eyes toward Joseph, her betrothed, and then upward toward God, her first and greatest love.
God shocks her — and all the world — with a harmony so beautiful, so unexpected, that she is briefly speechless. When Mary whispers YES to God, they sing together a song so rich that it awakens a song within her soul that lingers still in our universe.
Movement Three : Joseph
God chooses Mary and Joseph to participate in His grand rescue of the cosmos. Their YES to being a part of the mystery of God’s salvation costs them greatly, but they choose to give their lives away, and sacrifice their plans and dreams. In them we see the truth that when we lose our lives, we find them.
The cadence and tones become more rich as the YES of Mary and Joseph swirls upward to the YES of heaven, and salvation takes form in a young woman’s womb.
Movement Four : Angels and Shepherds
Harmonies burst through the usual veil between heaven and earth, and the skies are full of the song of life: Jesus the Messiah is born, hidden and small in a manger! Irony of ironies, God comes as a baby. The fanfare comes in the middle of the night as sweat drips down Mary’s brow and birth-blood drips from Joseph’s hands. No one is watching save the animals and the angels.
Lowly shepherds are the receivers of heavenly heralds’ singing of hope and hallelujah. These are ordinary men, not kings; workers in fields, not politicians in halls of power. Yet they are the ones with the capacity to wonder, to run, to see for themselves that Jesus is real and God’s care has come.
The star lights their way, and they navigate through the night to find the Light of the World.
Movement Five : Jesus — in the Flesh
Choruses crescendo and boldly proclaim the mystery of the God who comes to rescue sons and daughters of Adam who have lost their way. Our immortal, invisible, intangible Father becomes synapses and sinew, beating heart and boney hands. The Messiah, God with a fingerprint, is here!
Jesus is a living invitation from the Father, summoning us to forsake our sin and rest in the grace and truth of God. He sings over us, welcoming us into the security and mission of being His child.
Movement Six : Jesus in us, the Holy Spirit
The unrivaled voice of the Trinity sounds out in love, grace, and truth, singing darkness into light, chaos into peace, destruction into beauty, and strife into lovingkindness.
There is a cacophony, a dissonance stirred by the unholy opposition in the heavens, but the Holy Spirit of God triumphantly echoes the Father’s joy and the Son’s sacrifice, and mankind lifts its hopeful eyes, now empowered to bring the Kingdom to their neighbors.