Go Tell It In The Walmart
People love to poke fun at Christmas music. I was chatting with a cashier last week and she mentioned that at a previous job they started playing Christmas music the day after Halloween. She said that the workers were so desperate to turn it off that they would climb up and disconnect the speaker, in spite of the fact that they got into trouble for it every time.
On the one hand, I get it. I mean, there are some truly terrible Christmas ditties, (I’m looking at you, “Wonderful Christmastime”), but that’s hardly representative of the genre. In fact, the ubiquitous Christmas songs are one of my favorite parts of this season. Today, when I walked into Walmart to buy baking odds and ends the first thing I heard was “Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ was born.” The story of Christmas is hidden in plain sight and finds us no matter where we go this time of the year.
When the shepherds were out keeping watch over their sheep that night Jesus was born, they were going about their quotidian business. They weren’t watching for a savior. Yet it was there, in the midst of their every day, ordinary lives an angel broke in to let them know that, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
That outstretched arm that saved Israel from Egypt, was reaching out yet again. The fact that lowly shepherds were among the first to hear the news meant that no one was out of God’s reach. His mercy could reach everyone. As I heard that song in Walmart, I began to see the people around me and wonder did they hear that? Did they notice that the Lord was reaching his mighty hand towards them?
This is amazing news! It’s worth singing about! So the angels did. We still do. We know the words because we sing them in “Angels We Have Heard on High”: “Gloria, In Excelsis Deo” (“Glory to God in the Highest!”) The songs we sing piece together a story so beautiful and sweeping it is worth retelling as we grapple with the magnitude of its meaning.
We hear the haunting minor (re:sad) key of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” begging the Lord to break his 400 year silence as his people waited for him to show up again. It beckons us to hold on to hope in our dark, waiting seasons.
Then there’s the jubilant “Joy to the World” which sings of both Jesus’ birth and its unparalleled effect on the world, ushering in a new era, and his future coming. [P.S. It never says anything about Christmas, did you catch that?] It beckons us to join with all of creation in a song of praise.
One of my favorites is “We Three Kings” which reminds us that Jesus would play many roles, even suffering and dying that would still lead to glory. This was God’s plan from the beginning. It beckons us to see the King, the High Priest, and the Suffering Servant swaddled up in a manger and to offer lavish worship in response.
My prayer is that as you go about your everyday, ordinary lives that something in the songs you hear would strike you again. May the story inspire hope and joy wherever you are this season. May your soul feel its worth. May it inspire you to ponder afresh that Christmas reveals God is still saying “All I want for Christmas is you.”