Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
One of my favorite seasons of the church year is Advent leading up to Christmas. One of my favorite musicians is Michael Card. One of my favorite recordings is The Promise: A Celebration of Christ’s Birth.
Card’s public music and writing ministry is in its fourth decade, and in that time he has recorded 31 albums/cassettes/CDs and he has written 24 books. Card is a gifted musician, lyricist and biblical scholar. His songs are rich with biblical truth.
The Promise focuses on the promises God made in the Old Testament to send the Messiah, and the fulfillment of the promise in the birth of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. Though not as familiar as some of our favorite and time-tested Christmas hymns, Card has written lyrics that teach the profound truths of the Bible as it relates to prophecy and fulfillment, the connection between the Old and New Testaments, with Christ being the key. It is similar to what is intended by the sentence in our EFCA Statement of Faith, Article 4, “Jesus-Israel’s promised Messiah-was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.” (emphasis mine)
When The Promise was released in 1991, Card described it in this way:
We have 'sentimentalized' the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. When we think of the birth we see wise men and shepherds and a star. The birth of the Christ is so much more than a 'birthday' to be observed once a year. Our focus must become the Incarnation, which we celebrate every minute of our lives. We must realize that the cry we hear drifting from the stable is the voice of the One who spoke the universe into being." (Jn 1:3, I Cor 8:6, Col 1:16, Heb 1:2)
If Christmas means anything to you, then it must mean everything!
Recently John Stonestreet interviewed Card on “Breakpoint This Week: The Promise” (November 24, 2012).
In this 25 minute interview, Card explains a number of the songs he wrote for The Promise. He summarized his goal in this way: "What I wanted to do with 'The Promise' was really to show the connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament. And not simply in terms of prophecy, which is clearly a huge part of understanding Christmas, but the fact that there were specific recipients of that promise."
I would encourage you to listen to this interview, purchase the CD and learn some new songs during this Christmas season that will better enable you to understand the Bible through a Christ-focused interpretive lens (cf. Lk. 24:25-27). And ultimately, may it be used to foster joy, wonder, amazement and worship of the God-man, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14).