It is just three weeks until Christmas! I know, it is exciting.
Some of you are the very excited type. You got your Christmas decorations out as soon as October ended and went full on Whoville. Others of you have been a little more Grinch-y and have sneered at any mention of pre-Thanksgiving decorating and/or Christmas music. Many of us are in the middle and we love the season, decorating for the season, and getting everything in order early but didn’t completely flip the switch from October’s harvest to Yuletide festivities before the kid’s Halloween costumes were in the hamper. You, like me, elected to bring pieces of the Christmas season out week by week and have the decorating done by Thanksgiving in stages. When a Christmas song came on the radio, there was no sneering; merely a welcomed reminder that Christmas is coming.
But now…now it is December! You can shamelessly blare your favorite Christmas tunes with no feeling of judgment.
Many know that I love jazz music. From the soulful sax of John Coltrane to the blaring tin of Miles Davis’ trumpet, from Glenn Miller’s big band swing to the crooning of Sinatra, or from the dissonant creativity of Charles Mingus to the upbeat East Coast fusion of Doc Severensin, I love jazz. One of my favorites on the vocal side is Harry Connick, Jr…especially at Christmas. I played trumpet in middle and high school and I loved playing the super high notes…as high as I could vault the note. The trumpet line on Harry Connick, Jr.’s arrangement of Silver Bells is one of my all-time favorites. This is the sound of the season that gets me fired up! Take a listen for yourself here.
But, the sound of the season isn’t really the blaring Christmas music or the tasteful decorum. The sound of the season was really caught in the words of Austrian hymnist Joseph Mohr:
Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright.
Think of the stillness and the quiet rhythm of another ordinary night. I don’t know what an early first century night in Bethlehem was like. Perhaps there was the laughter from the local pub as men told the latest tales. Maybe there was the distant sound of sheep bleating on the outskirts of town. The braying of a donkey tied to a street post dots the night air. It was an ordinary night as far as anyone in Bethlehem was concerned.
Don’t let that small detail in history escape you. This was the birth of a king. Not just any king either, but the King of kings. If there were ever going to be pomp and circumstance over the birth of nobility, it would have to be when God’s own Son was born, right?
But, that wasn’t the sound of this season. It was another silent, calm night in Bethlehem.
As you get into the hectic schedule that runs rampant in December and you begin walking in the wonder of all of the sounds this season brings, let me encourage you to embrace periods of silence. No, I’m not trying to be Scrooge to your Cratchit enthusiasm. I want you to lean into the majesty of Christ, Who came in the most unexpected way. I am encouraging you to find the awe and wonder in Him as you step into that alleyway in Bethlehem. I want you to hear the infantile cry that pierces the tranquility of the night air. And there, right there, find the joy of Christ, the baby Who was born to die in your place. Right there, celebrate again that He came.
 Unless it is Blue Christmas by Elvis, Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney, or Santa Baby by anyone who recorded it…then you should know that I am judging you.
 The trumpet line really kicks it in around the 2.30 mark, but his first trumpet is screaming in the echo just after the 3 minute mark. I used to practice this line just because it was a screamer and I wanted to annoy people with it.