Christmastime “Melody of Messiah”

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Recently, while going through some old papers in a desk drawer at home, I came across a poem I had written 30 years ago when I was an administrator at Spring Arbor College in Michigan. At that time, I was asked to bring a brief devotional thought to the faculty-staff family Christmas party on campus.

Somehow, I felt inspired to write the poem that follows. With the caveat that I make no claim to being either a poet or a theologian, I hope that your thoughts might be drawn to the magnificence of God’s gift to us at that first Christmas.

Melody of Messiah

Out of the silence of the nothingness
Exploded a bright new world, the kiss of life.
The image of God, creation in song –
A perfect symphony of praise and love.
Our earth and our humanity
Burst fresh and pure from the Lord of Creation.
A world of sound and light and color.
A world of music in the oneness of Heaven and Earth.
A chant of praise and fellowship and joy
Until the day the discord came,
The fog and dark of sin and shame
That muffled the song.
Heart and soul could neither hear nor remember the glad sounds.
The dirge of death replaced the joy.

And yet above the darkness and discord
The Father played a tune of love.
A bright and hopeful melody that prophets heard
And understood from afar.
A song that signified a Savior –
A Chosen One to show the way
And end the dismal discord –
A melody of Messiah.

A maiden trusting in that song,
A virgin young and fair and much in love with life,
Wanting to hear music in a dull, drab world
Of toil and noise
Was brought to her knees by the tune of God.
A heavenly messenger brought the song, so loud and clear
That Mary could hear and understand and sing back her refrain:
Magnificat! Magnificat! Be it unto me
According to your Word.
God and a young woman, singing together
A melody of Messiah.

A handful listened, a scattering heard.
A faithful carpenter who loved a girl.
Cousin Elizabeth with a song of her own.
Keepers of sheep, men close to the earth
And close to God.
Who one night heard the heavens ring out
With songs of glory, songs of praise.
A multitude of the heavenly host
For a small band of shepherds-
A symphony for those who barely had ear for a tune.
God is so extravagant in His goodness.
The bleakness of the night of a troubled world
Pierced by a great chorale of unexpected deliverance
From a God who keeps His promises in wild, wonderful ways.
Not our ways, but His ways.
Not a song of our making, but of His composing.

The beautiful music of a woman in birth pangs,
Spilling the divine fruit of her womb in a stable
Under the anxious watch of her carpenter man.
The cry of a babe,
The King of Glory laid in a manger.
The Bread of Life, helpless in a feeding trough.
The Light of the World in a dark and drafty shed.
A song too strange and wonderful for the world to comprehend.
Only a few heard it that night –
A cow, sheep, an ox, a donkey, a few trembling shepherds.
They saw the God child and felt within them the new song,
The melody of Messiah.

Since that night we, too, have heard the song
Of a child sent to show the way,
To open our eyes and unstop our ears,
To teach us how to sing again.
To end our discord through His grief and pain
By groaning on a Roman cross, then silencing the chant of death
That we might hear the melody of Messiah.

Lord, in our confusion and despair,
Give us hearts and ears to hear Your song.
Whether it be new to us, or heard once again,
Let its melody of love assault our coldness.
Warm us with the tune of your Spirit-given Son,
Emmanuel, God with us, and in us, and for us.
Blot out the songs of death from our hearing and our memory
And use us as your forgiven instruments of peace
To play for all the world to hear and know
The music of Christmas,
The melody of Messiah.