“Joy to the world
The Lord has come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing, And heaven and nature sing, And heaven and heaven and nature sing……”
This Christmas season I am sitting at the computer enjoying quiet music from my Pandora program on Tivo. Traditional Christmas Carols resonate as pianist Jim Brickman plays the notes that instill peace, hope and joy. I know the words to the songs even though I don’t sing them. I love Christmas and I especially love Christmas carols that share the story of Jesus and the miracle of the incarnation. As the music seeps into my heart, suddenly loud noises break into the songs I hear. Bang, crrrrrunch. Outside the patio door, a rototiller levels a rectangular patch of grass in the backyard, and the dissonance pulls me into the present. Last July Rich and I decided that we wanted to be able to place picnic tables on the outside grass area without having them tip over; that’s when we ordered the job done. And yes, the workers showed up on December 13, 2017.
I can’t help but reflect on the difference between clanging noise and beautiful music. In the comic movie ‘Trains, planes and automobiles’, a character named Del Griffith speaks about what “grinds his gears.” Today, noise pollution grinds my heart. Without boundary awareness, the clamor can steal the gift of listening to the real message of Christmas. In our busy world, noisy messages constantly produce a cacophony of radio throb, shopping stress, and constant chatter accompanied by the ping pong rhythm from social media. It fatigues me and research agrees. But even more troubling is the effect noise has on overall health. An article from the Southern Medical Journal lists 7 adverse effects from noise pollution calling it a modern plague:
- Hearing Impairment
- Interference with Spoken Communication
- Sleep Disturbances
- Cardiovascular Disturbances
- Disturbances in Mental Health
- Impaired Task Performance
- Negative Social Behavior and Annoyance Reactions
Have you ever heard of Quiet Mark? It’s the “not-for-profit trading arm of the Noise Abatement Society charity. It was set up four years ago in response to the overwhelming number of calls to the charity’s national noise nuisance helpline, which estimates over 60 per cent of us have to take a break to escape noise, every day.”
As I take the time to quiet my heart this Christmas and place filters around the frantic sounds around me, I continue to realize that cultural noise falls short of the harmony available at Christmas. You see, by faith, Jesus not only arrives as Immanuel, the baby, but He is with me and in me. As a Christian, I am ‘in Christ.’ “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Cor 5:17 That internal playlist includes masterfully orchestrated lifestyle love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion as I respond with Christ-like choices to a symphony of painful situations orchestrated by broken people (to say nothing of the broken noise I produce through failures within myself).
This Christmas I hope that you make choices to fill your heart with Christmas Carols that celebrate the entrance of Jesus into a sinful, fallen, noisy world. Noise pollution takes away the call inside us to meet Jesus at the manger. That reality should remind us to rely on a personal, relational God who loves this world, sent a Savior to redeem it, and gives us the ability to live out the songs we listen to that bring peace, hope and joy. Merry Christmas!
“Now may the God of hope make you full of joy and peace through faith, so that all hope may be yours in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13