This article first appeared in First Lutheran Church's January 2015 newsletter, but I share it here because the message of what "track" we listen to and live by has legs here as well. Thank you for your grace on the context, and may this track be one that is life-giving to you in the days to come.
We are on the heels of the Christmas season and there has been some time to pause and reflect on the story of the Christ child and the message of love and forgiveness God brings to us through him. You have heard the story of the Nativity from the Sunday School youth of our church, heard beautiful music proclaiming the gospel from our choir led by Kimberly King, and perhaps have listened to the Jamestown High School A’ Capella Choir sing for the vespers service (the 90th year anniversary by the way.) There has been a great deal of proclamation as well a much to take in and listen to.
Personally, this last week of Advent has been a challenge for me as I’ve been without a voice due to a case of laryngitis. I’ve not been able to speak – so listening has had to be my focus.
But all this listening has helped me remember a tradition that young people used to participate in about 20-25 years ago. This tradition was called, “making a mix tape”.
Friends and boyfriends/girlfriends would choose their favorite songs and records them in a selected order and give them as gifts. Sometimes the songs would be favorites that the friends shared, reminders of happy times, or proclamations to tell someone how you really feel. Making mix tapes (or Cds) was a way to send a message, claim the importance of a relationship and use music as the messenger. When it comes down to it mix tapes/cds whole purpose was to share love with another person.
You may have never made or received a mix tape/cd before, but at some point you have either given or received a message of love. While people are not perfect and our messages can get messed up at times, sending and receiving a message of love is an important part of being human. I’d go so far to say that it is an essential part of being human. Love messages are essential to people because a love message from God to us is in our ‘make-up’. God created people in love and we can’t get away from our need to see, hear and share God’s love with others – even when we don’t get it perfect.
Mix tape and cds aren’t perfect either. There are gaps in songs, there are squeaks and pops in the recording and sometimes you run out of room on the label to write all the song titles. No matter that mix tapes/cds are not perfect, they are still worth the effort because what they communicate: “You are loved.”
John 3:16-17 says 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
In Jesus Christ, God sent us a perfect “mix tape” to tell us that we are loved. This message is one that we never get tired of hearing or sharing, because it’s the one message we need to hear over everything else.
For this New Year, it might be fun to create a mix tape/cd to remind yourself and those you love how you feel about them. What songs would you choose? Who would you make a give a mix tape/cd too?
Mix tape messages are remind the hearer, you are loved!” This message – and God’s, is one we all need to set to “repeat” – to hear all year long.