Alright, so I didn't make a dance. But I did write a song called 'Who Is This King'. And this is why.
1. Christmas isn’t over yet.
And it started before you think, too.
Remember when this mighty, awesome angel – a supernatural messenger sent by God 2,000 years ago – said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people in the whole Earth. But it’s only for December.”
No? It certainly seems like that’s the message of Christmas today. We don’t want to touch anything remotely festive with a barge pole until at least the second week in December, and then once normal work-week resumes in January our celebrations are long forgotten.
2. Those songs you’re sick of by November are more worshipful than your church’s worship set list.
Ineffably sublime. I mean, irreparably benign. Er no, an effigy submarine. Okay, what is it?!
It’s generic, I know, but I can’t count the number of times have stood in church and spouted the most ridiculous nonsense just because the worship leader/projectionist told me to. (And no, it’s not always the modern ones!)
Just look at these lyrics from three Christmas songs I love (one of them is Who Is This King, which I released this Christmas and I’m going to unwrap – excuse the pun – through this list).
What a powerful, succinct gospel message! Gosh, quite a contrast with some of the vague and even inane lyrics I’ve sung in church worship. If only every song we sang in our congregations spoke so clearly and unabashedly about Christ – because actually, when you look at the lyrics, a lot of them don’t. Hillsong’s hugely popular ‘Touch the Sky‘ says ‘I’, ‘me’ or ‘my’ 42 times, and doesn’t say ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ once. But it does say ‘my soul will dance on the wings of forever…’ Great stuff.
Too bad Christmas is just for December, eh?
3. The Christmas story hasn’t been wrapped up.
We only hear the beginning.
The multiple prophesies Jesus fulfilled on his birthday alone include his immaculate conception, the place of his birth and his lineage, but he lived out even crazier predictions long after that – over 300 actually.
Hearing this tiny part of the story – just once a year – could make it really hard to put the pieces together if you’re new to the whole Jesus thing. Like trying to finish a puzzle when you have to wait every year for a new piece and you only ever get the same one.
The tiny snippets of Christianity that ever reach beyond the stone walls must make quite a patchy puzzle. To somebody who doesn’t know God, the actions of a man who befriends prostitutes and is sentenced to death don’t align with those of the child King of Christmas.
This broken storyline spilled into the song as I imagined somebody wrestling with those stray puzzle pieces and apparent contradictions, grappling them into a handful of clumsy questions:
4. Christmas isn’t Merry.
It centres around a grave issue.
I wrote ‘Who Is This King?’ last December, inspired by the more foreboding Christmas tunes like ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ and ‘Mary, Did You Know?’ (especially this version by Ceelo Green). These slightly melancholic tunes emphasise the disturbing gravity of the prophetic birth; that Christmas means nothing unless Jesus dies.
Sleigh bells, reindeer and snow convey a completely erroneous image that Christmas is about happy, magical dreamlands, painting nothing of the reality of a Middle-Eastern man gasping for breath, put through the most painful death ever invented for crimes he didn’t commit.
Can you imagine that scene on your Christmas cards? And yet, that’s a much truer picture of Christmas: the miracle birth that made way for a monumental death that would end all deaths.
So, more pieces get added to the sparse puzzle in Easter. But how on earth do these haunting images fit with the angel chorus and miracle birth? More questions, then:
5. Christmas is a celebration of a contradiction.
A birth that brought death: a death that brought life. It's a head-scratcher.
Still not convinced Christmas is built on contradictions? Let me tell you a few names for Jesus, whipped straight out of the Bible:
Little baby Jesus (meek and mild, right?) is also known as Mighty God, The Rock (sorry Dwane), Captain of Salvation and – of course – the King.
Think that’s confusing? Try these…
The Lion and the Lamb, both Master and Servant, Son of God and Son of Man, AND the Image of the Invisible God.
Oooh contradicting names within my list of contradictions! It’s contradiction-ception! (Not contraception, that’s different.)
So is it any wonder that Christmas, a pinnacle point in the world’s history, blurs inseparably a historic birth with a horrific death?
The truth is, of course, that these aren’t really contradictions; they’re all just glimpses into a God that is so ‘much higher than our thoughts’ that we just cannot possibly hope to comprehend all that He is.
All we can hope to do is see the beauty in the unique birth that brought about the final death to bring eternal life. And then in awe and wonder, respond to it with whatever gift He gave us to worship Him.
Download ‘Who Is This King?‘ here!
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Or check out the Bible verses below to read around the lyrics of Who Is This King.
‘Virgin girl’ – Luke 1:34
‘Walked on waves’ – Matthew 14: 22-33
‘Healed the lame’ – John 5: 1-15
‘Stood with the outcast’ – John 8: 1-11
‘Died a criminal’s death’ – Mark 15: 6-15
‘Forgave with his final breath’ – Luke 23:34
‘Made a way to seek and save every broken soul’ – Luke 19:10
‘The grave could not contain’ – Acts 2:24
‘Rose to life’ – 1 Corinthians 15:3-5
‘Open arms still bear the scars’ – John 20: 25-27