For over 50 years, students at the University of Illinois have had a unique way to spread holiday cheer. It’s called “Dial-A-Carol,” where live volunteers answer phones around the clock to sing any Christmas song you like. What volunteers lack in musicality, they make up for in enthusiasm, and they get calls from around the world.

Recently, the hosts of the Today Show thought it would be fun to call in. Host Tamron Hall asked, “What song shall we ask for?” Al Roker suggested “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.”

Tamron, age 45, said she’d never heard of it.

If you’re surprised, consider the finals of The Voice that same night on NBC. Contestant Jordan Smith sang, “Mary, Did You Know?” Afterward, Coach Adam Levine said he had never heard of that song, but was happy Jordan insisted on singing it because it fit who he was.

To be fair, Adam Levine is Jewish, but all this confirms my observation that sacred Christmas music is becoming increasingly rare on radio and TV. Kids are rarely taught it in school. Christmas pageants are nearly a thing of the past. And it’s not just Christmas carols that people no longer know. When couples who get married in our church request that the congregation sing a hymn at their wedding, almost no one sings. They not only don’t know the song, they don’t even know what to do with the hymnal.

We can either long for the days of Christendom, when everyone knew the songs because society expected everyone to be in church, or we can be the church God is calling us to be today. We have the privilege of making the Good News of Jesus Christ come alive for a new generation. We get to be the church for those who don’t know the great music of our faith, much less what it means.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is timeless, and can speak the truth of God into every culture.

What a privilege we have. What a joy to share the joy!

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