Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Happy birthday to You! (Xmas)

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Happy birthday to You
Happy birthday to You
Happy birthday, dear Jesus!
Happy birthday to You!
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Happy birthday, Jesus. How many years have I celebrated Your birthday by wishing everyone in the world --but You-- a 'Merry Christmas'? Oh God, how lonely You must feel on this day!

For so long we've celebrated this day as if You were dead. I hadn't thought of it until the other day, but if all my friends got together, sang songs about my birth, made pageants about my mom & dad getting together, and gave presents to each other, it would feel mighty strange. I could expect them to do that maybe after I died... but while I'm still alive??? Hey, guys, I'm still here!!

Of course I know this isn't Your birthday for real, Lord, and I know it doesn't matter really which day You were born on. Having You born in my heart is the real thing! (^_^) But among my family and friends we like to celebrate birthdays, and there's nothing wrong with that. I remember one dear missionary who didn't want his birthday celebrated because either it wasn't Biblical or because it took glory away from You. But what parent would not be happy on the day their child was born! Shoot, even You wished me a happy birthday this last November!

So we picked the day a long time ago for Your birthday, Jesus. But forgive us, we've payed more attention to the day & event than to You. And it's not about telling each other and the Santa Clauser's that the Season is all about You. Oh God, forgive us for our righteous finger-pointing at Christmas consumers! They don't know You at this time of the year because we have been celebrating Your birthday like You weren't here with us now! It's not about the day and whether it's celebrated for the right or wrong reasons. I know You're happy if I just spend time with You. When my wife and I celebrate a day together -- be it anniversary or birthday -- we like to spend time together. And You want this with us -- Your bride -- everyday!

Today we celebrate Your birthday. Lord, I've rarely faced You on Your birthday. The first time I ever heard people really treating it like a birthday instead of a memorial service was when I watched Stanley Kubrick's Vietnam war movie, "Full Metal Jacket", and the rudest of drill instructor sergeants led his recruit platoon in singing "Happy Birthday" to You.

What do we do on birthdays for the living? We ought to do the same for You, I think. But presents... what do You want? What did You die for?

...me!

So here I am, Lord, have me! Have some time with me today and everyday.
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...Of course, It's really You throwing the party, isn't it! But Your'e awesome. Happy Birthday! Here's our meager party for You. We love You, Lord!
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Carols - to the rest of you who want to sing with me to Jesus & spend time with Him!

You know, part of me really wants to hold onto "the nostalgia" of Christmas... the feeling, the songs, the traditions, etc. And I'm not saying we have to let all these things go. What I am saying, though, is that one moment in His presence with Him is worth leaving everything else behind! One moment beholding Him, bowing and crying in awesome wonder, is worth it all.

I love songs, I love Jesus. I love singing to Jesus. But there are times when He shuts me up, and I need to be shut up instead of continuing on with the song. Why? Well, imagine I was singing to my wife and she wanted me to stop because she wanted to hug me or say something to me. And if I didn't pay attention, but wanted to keep singing and finish the song. Wouldn't the song have become more important to me than my wife? Isn't it the same thing with a lot of our singing, worship, and church services & programs? Don't we know that God is willing to talk to us, wants to interrupt us and hug us and pour out His heart to us?

Christmas carols. They instantly evoke a wonderful nostalgia, and God's not against nostalgia! In fact, I think it's a gift from Him. But we have a habit of sometimes loving His gifts more than Him Himself. He is the Gift!

Christmas has also been a focus time for evangelism, and this shows in Christmas carols which often try to tell the story of Christ's birth in a very beautiful way. And you know, I don't want to say that programs, pageants or songs meant to reach people are not a good thing. But at the same time, I think that when we attend to Him, somehow He'll take care of "reaching" people. Most likely He'll pour out His heart to us for the people around us and we won't be able to stop crying and loving them, and He'll lead us in loving them day to day.

We have carols that tell the story from every perspective imaginable: the town (Bethlehem), the star, the wise men, the manger, the night, the Angels, the shepherds, the mother (Mary), etc. I'm waiting for a carol someday from the perspective of the flocks by night or a cow in the manger. (^_^) But I want to focus on worship.

I love what some call "prayer songs". They're songs that speak to God (worship) instead of about God (praise). And you know, when you're singing to Him and bowing in His presence, you'll know easier if it's just 'you' singing and need to shut up or not. It's hard, though, to really find Christmas carols that are prayer songs. Why is that? I think maybe it's because we've focused on the ceremony about Christ instead of talking to Him on His own birthday. But that's okay, we can go into His presence now and worship Him! We can take the words of the carols and wonder aloud at Him and to Him. We can change words, we can pause, we can cry.

I'm going to list some carols with a few notes about them. I've linked them to www.cyberhymnal.org, the best online resource for hymns that I've seen. They also have tunes & so forth.

So here's my songlist for Jesus' birthday!
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A few suggestions:

1) Follow the Spirit... if He brings something that's not "a Christmas song" or leads you not to sing at all, then follow Him. Jesus is the goal: it's His birthday!

2) Don't race through the verses! Read them silently and out loud. Talk to Him with them and about them. Take some time to thank Him and call Him by the names He's been given in them.

3) Praise Him in word, not only in song. You don't need to be singing in order to "worship". Yes, it sounds weird to praise Him out loud. But it shouldn't. You don't need to shout, but shouting isn't a bad thing, either. King David had a habit of doing that, but it was born out of his personal intimacy with Jesus. So let whatever you do come from that, too.

4) Try doing what the song says. I.e., "Fall on your knees" isn't meant to be rhetorical or merely poetic! It's what happens when we run into the living God! A long list of people in Biblical history couldn't help doing so when God was there. Or they chose to. You and I have the privilege of choosing to show Him respect with our whole being - spirit, soul and body. So try the song's suggestions... "And I will daily lift my hands, for I will always sing of when Your love came down..."
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O Come All Ye Faithful - the chorus is, "Oh come let us adore Him", so let's do it! Take 6 also introduced me to replacing those words with, "For He alone is worthy"! And then you can change it further to, "For You alone are worthy!"

What Wondrous Love Is This? -- It's not a Christmas carol, but sounds perfect.

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing -- read all the verses for this. Wesley's hymns especially need to be also read and not only sung. There's a lot in there. When the chorus comes around for the last two verses of this song, change the end to "Glory to the King of kings!" 'Cause hey, He's not newborn anymore, you know!

Jingle Bells -- okay, it sounds funny, but there is some fun prophetic imagery in there!

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus -- though it's not known as a Christmas carol, Wesley wrote this as a hymn for Christ's nativity. And really, it is a cry for Christ to come and be born in our hearts! It's nice to blend this with Alleluia, Sing to Jesus!

Good Christian Men, Rejoice! -- here's our dancing, party song for Jesus' birthday! And hey, folk­lore has it that the author, hear­ing an­gels sing these words, joined them in a dance of worship.

"We wish You a Merry Christmas" -- the 'You' being God, instead of each other.

O Holy Night -- we only usually know the first verse, but read the second and third versus and sing them! God is good! "Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth"... how much is your soul worth to Him? He laid down His life for it!

Joy to the World -- not originally a Christmas carol, but here's another high praise song!

Silent Night -- Jesus is "Love's pure light"! Soak in that! And also, I think this song should always be remembered with the WWI Christmas Truce of 1914, when enemies put down their weapons, buried their loved friends, drank beer together and most of all learned that they were both human and not the demons that the war advertisers & commanders painted them as. If anything, Christ's humble birth needs to remind us that God values everyone, high to low, and is also desperately in love with even the worst of us. He gave Himself for us while we were "still His enemies", and to truly honor Him and His birth and life, we need to live in the same agape love that is in His heart, stepping out of our trenches of bitterness and our right to shoot and walk across "no man's land" --even though we might get shot-- to greet our enemy and love them, just as Christ loved us. And in the process, we'll see through His eyes that they are truly loveable!

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel -- This is a cry to the Lord! Cry out to Him, cry out to Him from your heart. Read the Scriptures that the site mentions for this song, too.

Sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus!

And maybe Matt Redman's, "The Heart of Worship", realizing that the heart of Christmas is Jesus Christ, the Living One right now who stands beside you and is with you!
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Finally, I want to share something. It's another carol, but I changed the words. I was in the Christian bookstore a couple weeks ago with my wife, and in the background the store was playing a choir CD. They were singing "What Child is This?" very beautifully, but I couldn't hear the words and that was good. Why? Because it sounded like Angels singing, and soon they were singing inside of me, and it was as if I could hear them praising God, wondering at Him and His awesome love. And I thought, "There are other words to this song!" (I think I'm not the only one to have that feeling and that thought about songs). So I took some time and wrote this:

What love is this of Christ our King
Who left His throne to become nothing?
Our griefs to share, our sins to bear
And bring to an end by His dying
Peace, peace from God above
His Word is mercy, His name is Love
Gaze we at Your majesty
And wonder with Heav'n at Your myst'ry

10 Comments:

  • At December 25, 2004 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    totally creepy.

     
  • At December 25, 2004 2:12 PM, Blogger Ramone said…

    Hi! Thanks for visiting! Sorry it seemed creepy to you. I was just talking with my sis' Laura about how difficult it is to sometimes relate to others who don't know this kind of love. It's like marriage... some people look at it as getting hitched or a ball & chain, like a restriction boundary or the end of the fun part of your life. And we don't often know how to say...

    ... That there is a love that commits and gets soooooo incredibly wonderful and deep!

    ... That often we think of marriage as kind of sealing off the other options and securing a love that's already there, but what we're discovering with marriage is incredible. The depths of the wonder of this marriage love are things we couldn't have known if we hadn't gotten married.

    ... That marriage isn't settling at all. It's meant to be a doorway, a gateway to something awesome and infinite beyond words which you couldn't have known before.

    ... And that this marriage love is a picture of God's love for us! He is love from eternity, and He made a covenant (like marriage) with us and revealed Himself to us... not to confine us but to open to us the gateway to even more awesome love! He showed His love to us so that we could understand He is love from eternity!

    ... I wish I could describe that in loving Him back, no matter how strange or creepy it looks to declare it, there is such an eternal, infinite abundance of love, rest and bliss that I cannot put into words. I don't know how to tell you of it to make it sound good to you, and I don't want to 'sell' it to you anyway. It's free, and a deep part of you -- the very deepest in each of us -- is made for it! God made us in His love, and we are made for eternity. That's why we always have this longing which is never satisfied. That's why we respond to love we receive from others. We're made for love and for the eternal joy of His love.

    Bless you & thanks for reading.

     
  • At December 25, 2004 3:17 PM, Blogger Your breath smells like cheese... said…

    Whoever said that this was creepy seems to be one of those people who celebrate Christmas for the gifts, the parties, and everything else that is material (no offense to whoever you are.)
    I can relate to saying Happy Birthday to Jesus. I don't celebrate Christmas but I do celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I once heard someone say that, "Christmas is in the eye of the beholder." I agree, but sadly. It is a free country and God gives us free will but, it just doesn't seem right to give everyone else presents on his birthday.
    For those of you who do celebrate Christmas, I'm not saying that you're a bad person for it or that you shouldn't. I'm just saying that some of us need to check ourselves and make sure that this season is not just about gifts, christmas trees, lights, parties, material things...it should be about Jesus Christ...the one who died for us.
    Thank you Ramone for posting this. We need more people like you in this world and less like the anonymous who just said that this was creepy. I think that Anonymous is pretty creepy himself for thinking that this is creepy.

    Happy Holidays ;)

     
  • At December 25, 2004 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nice stuff from the Lord, eh !
    Happy Holidays every day !
    Leon

     
  • At December 25, 2004 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    BTW I'm not the Anonymous dude at the top of teh BLOG.
    Just haven't signed in.
    Leon

     
  • At December 25, 2004 3:31 PM, Blogger Ramone said…

    Hey, thanks everybody! But please, don't worry about the first comment... I'm not upset at the person. I'm happy he or she was honest and I got to share about God's covenant love. (^_^) I hope he or she gets to read it -- no hard feelings & no offense taken.

    There was a time when I thought this kinda stuff and talk about love was creepy, when faith seemed blind and very scary, as if it put you open to being manipulated or just becoming plain crazy. I wanted to believe, but I couldn't believe because I wanted to. I needed to really know God's otherness, and that can only come by revelation.

    And I've said my share of much more abusive things to believers, but God is so awesome in showing His love! He remains constant in His faithful love, no matter what ups and downs we go through!

     
  • At December 25, 2004 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think your analogy is right on Ramone..it's true and it's a good reminder for all of us to remember Jesus on His birthday. How great is it that you remember which songs praise Him and I especially like the words you wrote to "What Child is This". Very beautiful. Really great...thank you for sharing and for pointing us to Jesus today. Your Mother

     
  • At December 26, 2004 12:39 AM, Blogger Craig said…

    Merry CHRISTmas,
    The only comment I have for the first comment is , " what a shame they are Anonymous ". The only time we need to be anonymous is when we are ashamed of what we say.

    What a liberating thing to be proud of my Lord and Savior and never ashamed to proclaim his love for all , even anonymous. The difference with CHRISTians is that when we have someone disagree with us, we love them. What a lonely life to be that anonymous. Floating through life with nothing to guide you. Nothing to believe in. No reason to exsist. This anonymous that thinks God is creepy, needs our prayers more than ever. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will soften their hardened heart and let them find their way from the creepy darkness, into the light and glory of our Lord.

    Praise him and his Holy name.

    Craig ( Love My Lord ) Hawley

     
  • At December 26, 2004 11:36 AM, Blogger Ramone said…

    Thanks again, everybody. But please limit the comments to loving Jesus and being about Him.

    The first post was anonymous, but most people post anonymously unless you want to sign up for your own Blogger blog. And as I've already said, I understand why the person said what s/he said. I've been there too.

    If someone walked in and didn't understand, it means they simply need an interpreter, not correction. You know, sometimes when people walk into Christian meetings they can be plenty confused even if we are not speaking in tongues. And if they thought it creepy, it simply means they haven't met Him yet.

    Please remember that Jesus was not afraid of what people thought of Him. When He said we have no life unless we drink His blood and eat His flesh, most of His disciples followed Him no longer. I wrote this whole thing originally to Jesus to say happy birthday to Him, and as it got longer I wanted to share with other people who know Him how we can turn the pageantry that we're used to into worshiping and adoring the living God -- instead of a dead religious exercise.

    In other words, part of the reason people during Christmastime cannot see Jesus is not because of Santa Claus and consumerism, but is because we the church have been treating His birthday as if He were not alive, and making the most of the memorial celebration. This is why I wrote and why I repented to God.

    It would be sad if this point is lost in the attempt to defend God and declare how anyone who doesn't believe in Him must himself be creepy.

    Blessings, love & thanks,
    Ramone

     
  • At January 04, 2005 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    An old ensemble I sing in called AVE (Acapella vocal ensemble) which consists of my family and one other couple....anyway.....as part of the program, we sang a song at church this week (Christmas Day) which is called stable prayer.

    Infinite Lord, my infant king,
    Throned in humility;
    Your only robes your swaddling clothes,
    Crying your first decree.
    Your grand domain,
    Your crown and train:
    Darkness and dust and sheep.

    Jesus in dust and hay I kneel,
    Stabled in deepest need;
    My only robes your righteousness,
    Mercy my only plea.
    My light your gaze, my song your praise.
    My hope and prayer--your peace.

    Jen

     

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