At the heart of the most endearing Christmas Carols is a glimpse into the manger scene in ancient Bethlehem. The kernel of meaning in these Christ-centered Christmas carol is contained in four small words: “Jesus Christ is Lord!” (Phil. 2: 11). First, the name “Jesus” comes from the Hebrew, “Yeshua,” and means “God saves”. Carols that help us recognize Jesus include What Child is this? and Silent Night. Second, are carols about Christ, Greek for “the anointed one.” These include Angels We have Heard on High and Hark the Herald Angles Sing. Finally, the experience of choosing Jesus as Lord is described in O, Come All Ye Faithful and Joy to the World. When we sing any of these Jesus-centered carols we have an opportunity to revisit Bethlehem ourselves and then share Christ with others through these songs.
Below are six ways to find and to share Jesus, the Christ, through a carol:
1) **Sing a carol aloud, like “Silent Night.” Let its melody wash over your heart and touch your soul. Sing it aloud again, allowing its message to sink in – God so loves you, that he sent his son, Jesus, to become one with us. **If you don’t have any lyrics, download a free copy of fifteen Christ-centered Christian carols at http://www.christmascarolfestival.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Christmas-Song-Sheet-2011.pdf)
2) Read the lyrics, after asking the Holy Spirit to speak to you and touch you. Read them aloud or in silence slowly, three times. Whenever a word, phrase or image touches you (calms or excites you), stop and repeat that line, holding it in your heart for a time.
3) Reflect on one title/name for Jesus from within this carol (i.e. Holy Infant, Christ, Savior, Son of God, Light, or Redeemer). What does it say about Jesus? What does it say to you or about you?
4) Carry this title/name for Jesus with you into your day. Pray this title for a few moments before you send an email, text message, or before making a phone call. When you feel rushed or anxious, pause and let this name for Jesus echo in your heart and calm your spirit.
5) Write out your description of what this carol is saying to you. Then condense it down to one sentence for possible sharing with someone who has a need for Christmas peace and joy. Remember. Your experience with this Christmas carol can connect others to the Christmas event and to Jesus.
6) Consider preparing a longer sharing for more serious conversations about how you were moved from… fear to courage, or from hatred to love, weakness to strength, despair to hope, guilt to peace, loneliness to community… through singing and praying this carol. But remember most sharings will normally be of the one sentence variety.
For video clips that feature images/titles for Jesus from two carols each… visit https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLa4Awga9K9r81CwNcbLu5D7bGt-5tRp72.)
*Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) Seek That Which is Above, Ignatius Press, 2007