Last weekend I had the privilege of attending a conference at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, IL where John Bell from Iona Community was the plenary speaker. In his morning address Bell pointed out how Protestants tend to focus solely on Christ’s birth, death and resurrection and do little with his ministry. This is especially evident in our congregational song.
What we miss then is singing of justice, and healing, of giving of ourselves, and taking up the cross. While we like to portray the Christ-child as meek and mild, of the suffering Christ as silent and even timid, and the resurrected Christ as someone “other” the Christ of the gospels is anything but those things. The Christ of the gospels loved to feast; he got tired, wept, and rejoiced. While he was fully God he was also fully human. He was not timid but spoke with such searing truth that people were willing to kill him in order to keep him from exposing their lies. Singing of a Christ who challenges us to love our enemies including those of different faiths or ethnic backgrounds, to forgive the worst of sinners and then enfold them into our community, to take care of the orphan even those with HIV/AIDs, to be willing to give up some of the comforts in life in order to bring comfort to those who need it most; to sing of such a Christ puts us outside our comfort zone. Instead we prefer the child in the manger who disturbs no one, who neither cries nor protests against the evils of this world. At least that’s what most of our songs suggest.