This website is about pathways to God. Perhaps the straightest way is the way of love. And that brings me to Joan Osborne. One of my favorite Christmas songs is her singing “Christmas Means Love”.
She sings about the birth of Christ bringing us the message of love. She affirms that Christmas should be a time to share joy and love with our neighbors. The love message of Christmas can compel us to help one another.
Then in the middle of the song, she has a talking part. There she speaks of her desire for one thing–to spend Christmas with the one she loves.
I believe that in our experiences of love with one another whether it is familial love or romantic love or compassionate love we are traveling the way of God. Along this way, every experience may brush up against the glory of the God of Love.
May your Christmas be filled with deepest and sweetest love. Now let’s listen to a bluesy Joan Osborne.
I recently attended a concert with my wife Pat and our daughter Kari. It may have been my favorite concert of all time. It was Amos Lee and an amazing six piece, multi-talented band. The extended version of Lee’s songs allowed the different musicians to highlight their skills. Amos Lee, himself, was engaging. His singing was moving. My daughter compared him to Otis Redding. I think perhaps a male version of Norah Jones. Though I swear on one song he was channeling a clear-voiced Bob Dylan!
The song that moved me most is entitled Spirit off the cd by the same name. He explained that the song was written in New Orleans. (It begins on Royal Street in the French Quarter.) The repeated chorus is “I just wanna feel the spirit washin’ over me.” The ‘spirit’ in the song is the spirit of singing and music.
I too am a music lover. I know what it means for the spirit to wash over me as I listen to Amos Lee and many others. Music is powerful. Augustine is credited with saying, “To sing is to pray twice.” Of course, he was talking about singing the Psalms with mouth and heart. But all kinds of music, whether strictly religious or not, is powerful to move us.
The spirit of music can move our spirits. And whenever that move generates love, peace or joy, the Spirit of God is also in the mix.
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In Isaiah 35, the prophet speaks of a highway to Zion which, in his context, means a highway to the presence of God. He calls it a holy way, a safe way, and a happy way.
It is holy because it belongs to God. It is safe, Isaiah says, so that even fools cannot get lost. Some days I find great comfort in that! It is happy because it is filled with the redeemed who love to sing.
There was an old Methodist who used to sing all the time. He would sing in the morning when he got up. He would sing in his workshop. He was always singing. Someone asked him one day, why he always sang. His answer, “Because I always have something to sing about.”
Isaiah presents us with a wonderful picture of our journey; a journey of glad-hearted hope. But that is not the whole story, is it? Yes, we may be redeemed, but our redemption is not yet complete. Jesus has come, but still we sing, “O come, o come Emmanuel”.
Sometimes, to use Isaiah’s words from this passage, we still have “weak hands, feeble knees, and fearful hearts.” It’s true I know of me.
As we walk this path, may God strengthen our hands to serve, our knees to follow, and especially our hearts to love.