The Rhythm of Christmas

Think about clapping a simple beat. Then imagine hearing a drummer performing a more complicated sequence. When we hear these different beats, we’re experiencing rhythm. In terms of life, think about the pace, the rhythm your life is following. The pattern. The sound. The tempo. You can tell a lot about where a person has been and where a person is going by their rhythm.

If you could experience the ultimate rhythm that God has for you, the pattern He has set for your life, you could avoid a lot of drama, trauma, anxiety, and anger. The problem is, a lot of us don’t realize we’re going through life in a certain rhythm. We sometimes see our lives as a series of unrelated, random beats. We don’t learn from the past like we should. We don’t get on track for the future like we wish we could.

We’re all playing to the beat of a certain rhythm, and that rhythm will determine the results of our lives. But here’s the amazing thing. Rhythm can change. You can have tempo changes, meter changes, pattern changes. And although you may feel powerless to change your reality, if you change your rhythm, the result of that adjustment can change your reality.

God is the source of rhythm. Everything God created has rhythm - our bodies, our world, our universe. He intended us to live by His beat and pattern but man chose to march to the beat of their own drum. We got out of rhythm. We took the drumsticks from God, and the result was chaotic. To change that reality of chaos, God changed His rhythm.

When a drummer plays the drums, they have to know when to strike the drum and when to rest. Between the old and new testaments of the Bible, there were 400 years of silence. God changed his rhythm from religion based in law to relationship based on the work Jesus did on our behalf. Relational rhythm is what the rhythm of Christmas is all about. God gave us a new rhythm, first found in the heartbeat of Jesus. The rhythm of Christmas is about Jesus and allowing Jesus to set the rhythm of our lives through our relationship with Him.

Rhythm is meaningless without context. It’s kind of like a word. If I say the word “ring” you don’t know what I mean. That could mean a lot of different things, depending on its context. The same is true with rhythm. If I give you a rhythm you have no idea where it starts and ends, or how it’s supposed to fit into a song. Jesus is the context to God’s rhythm. Without Jesus, God’s rhythm seems like nothing but patterns, a religious rhythm - “do this and don’t do that.” But with Jesus, you see God’s love and His plan, and you realize that God’s plan was, is, and will always be relational.

In Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” He says “Come here and I’ll show you a pattern for your life.” He wants to show you love, mercy, and forgiveness.

Take the command, “Love your neighbor as yourself” for instance. What if my neighbor is a terrible person? Without Jesus, that command can seem nearly impossible. But with Jesus, I’m reminded that I’m not perfect either, yet, Jesus died for me. I didn’t deserve it. So Jesus gives the command a certain context, where now it becomes achievable.

Jesus knows the patterns that propel us into power and purpose. Jesus is the foundation of our lives and existence. A drummer sets rhythm in a song and this rhythm keeps everything organized and held together. Take rhythm out, you’ve got chaos. Colossians 1:15-18 (MSG) says, “For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.” That sounds like rhythm, does it not? Jesus sets the rhythm and through Him, we find our purpose. Our lives go from chaotic to organized and secure when we revolve our life around His rhythm.

Maybe as you look at your life you say, “There’s no real purpose, no organizing rhythm.” God says, “I’ll let you in on my rhythm. There is a place for my pace in your soul.” That’s the rhythm of Christmas. Jesus was born of a woman. He experienced the rhythm of man. He was born under the law. The law was a system of rules and regulations that no man could keep. Yet, Jesus fulfilled the law perfectly. He had perfect rhythm. Christ’s heartbeat changed the world. As we follow the beat of the babe from Bethlehem, we give Him the drumsticks of our lives and allow Him to set the pace for our soul.

In rhythm, timing is everything. If you’re a drummer in the band, you set the tempo and the band is in sync with what you play. People knew that God was going to send a new rhythm to reconcile and redeem the world. God told us this through the prophets. The word “rhythm” is derived from “rhythmos” which means “a measured motion.” God measured out all of his options before putting His plan into motion. He thought long and hard, because there was a divine dilemma. What would God do about the sin problem in the world? Would he wipe us out? Or would he bring us back into rhythm? Then, on that first Christmas, he put that measured plan into motion as God showed the greatest display of rhythm the world has ever seen. When Christ was born, His heartbeat signaled a new rhythm that would revolutionize the world.

Jesus lived for 33 years. But on the cross, after He perfectly followed the beat of the law during His life on earth, the heartbeat of heaven came to a halt. It appeared the beat had suffered the ultimate defeat. But on that third day, it began to beat again – so loud, so majestic, so full - that Jesus burst forth with resurrection power. There was a rhythm that changed the world. A rhythm found inside the heart of a newborn child that grew to become a man. This rhythm would stand up to religion. It would defeat the devil and sin. It lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death. And then, it stopped. And then, it rose again. Je-sus. Je-sus.

When you can’t feel anything else, you can always feel the beat, His beat. Je-sus. Je-sus. Je-sus. No rhythm, no life. Know rhythm, know life. Do you hear God’s heartbeat?

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