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The Unquenchable Song
December 24, 2022

First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto

LUKE 2:1-20

Can you hear the song in the air? The song the angels sang to the shepherds, filling the sky, the song that never ages or goes flat or loses its beauty and splendor, a songs That isis unquenchable!

Can you hear the song in the air? It's a song of love, warmth, cheer, good will. County supervisors in a small Iowa town prohibited the playing of Christmas music in the courthouse because it was difficult to get convictions out of juries. Christmas carols made them soft! What a secret weapon! What if we could unleash Christmas music on Putin! The song in the air is a song of goodwill.

I found a Christmas version of the popular love chapter—1 Corinthians 13:

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny balls; but do not have love, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime; but do not have love, I’m just another cook.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels, and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir’s cantata; but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love does not envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love does not yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love does not give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who cannot. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and
endures all things. Love never fails.

Toys will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust; but giving the gift of love will endure.

The song in the air is a song of love.The song in the air is a song of hope. The song cannot be squelched. The song cannot be stopped. It is irrepressible, unquenchable! They tried to shut the parents out. There was no room in the inn, but Joseph and Mary were given a stable. A church had difficulty finding a child willing to play the innkeeper who had no vacancy for the couple. One innkeeper softened the blow by telling Joseph, "I don't have any room, but come in anyway and have a drink!" Another innkeeper just couldn't turn the pregnant couple away, so he told Joseph, "Come on in. You can have my bed; I’ll sleep in the barn.” The surprised Joseph, who was also a child, improvised on the spot. He looked around and said to Mary, "We don't want to stay in this dump. Let's find the stable." 

It was a custom in those days for the town musicians to gather outside the house and sing when a baby was born. As Jesus was born far away from their hometown of Nazareth, there were no musicians to sing outside the barn; so God sent angels to sing.

King Herod tried to kill the baby, but the wise men went home a different route, bypassing and preventing King Herod from finding and executing the baby! Herod tried to stop the singing but the angels sang.

Can you hear the song in the air? The song is unquenchable. It's a song of hope, and hope will not be extinguished. Some of America's greatest music came out of slavery. The white man uprooted people from Africa, broke up families, sold off the children, governed their bodies, told them what to do, where to go, what to eat, who to work for. But, no slave owner could stop the singing! In spite of suffering, longing for a better world, hoping for a new life, yearning for freedom, the slaves sang.  The spirituals inspire us yet today. The song is unquenchable.

Perhaps some of you here this evening are finding it difficult to hear the singing. COVID and the flu are rampant. Perhaps you or a loved one have mental and/or physical health issues. Or, death has visited your family. Or, the month stretches longer than the paycheck. Or, you didn’t get a good grade or make the team. Peace and goodwill seem beyond you.

Two artists were commissioned to paint their conception of peace. The winner would receive a rich award. When they finished their paintings, distinguished judges assembled to view their work.

The first artist unveiled his painting, and there was a beautiful, magnificent pastoral scene, with a farmer coming in after a hard day in the fields. His wife was cooking, his children were playing around the hearth, and all was at peace in this tranquil and beautiful setting.

"That's it," said the judges, "but we'll look at the other painting anyway." Instead of a tranquil, pastoral scene, there was a raging waterfall producing a mist which communicated hostility. But if you looked closely, on the side of the waterfall was a tiny branch of a tree growing out of a rock, and on the end of the branch was a bird's nest. And on the edge of the nest was a mother bird, singing her heart out in the midst of the turbulence around her. The judges deliberated and then said, "This is peace---tranquility and celebration in the midst of turmoil."

Can you hear the song in the air? It's a song of love and a song of hope. Open your heart this evening. Open wide the door of your life, and invite the Christ-child to come in. Tell God there is room in your life for Jesus. And, listen for the singing. Listen for the song in the air.

I’ve told you some of the story, but now let's watch it as well.

© 2022 Douglas I. Norris