Of course, I wanted to go and hear two rappers who were also trained seminarians discuss whether or not Hip Hop Culture and Evangelicalism could be friends. It was Wednesday afternoon at The Evangelical Theological Society Annual Meeting in Atlanta and the two rappers were also active pastors. Their lectures countered the typical storyline tracing rap to gangs and inner city violence. Instead, they exposed earlier roots in classical African American preaching and told how they used the medium to proclaim the Gospel and express their total commitment to Christ. The discussion was lively, and I was thrilled to see the multi-racial interaction. For many, it was a paradigm shift to think of tracing rap to black preaching and evangelists. Actually, they could have reached back much earlier, back to the countryside of Bethlehem the night Jesus was born.
When the Christmas carol declares “Sing choirs of angels!” many picture beautiful blondes with flowing manes and white robes. Actually, Luke uses a military term when he describes the sudden appearance of a host of angels to the shepherds after one of them announced Jesus’ birth. Look at the text carefully. Luke doesn’t say that they sang.
“And this will be the sign for you. You will find the baby wrapped up and lying in a food trough. Suddenly, with the angel, there was a multitude of the heavenly army praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the Highest, and peace upon earth among those in His favor.’” Luke 2:12-15
Note that it stresses that the choir of angels spoke, and actually the Greek is quite rhythmical. This is a heavenly first-century rap by a choir of angels. And one thing is clear. Whether we sing or rap, God deserves all our praise for the gift he gave, and his favor rests only upon those who humbly open their hearts to his gift of his one and only Son
LORD, use all the different styles of music, visual art, and drama to catch folks up in the joy during this time when millions do stop and celebrate the birthday of Jesus. Help my with my brothers and sisters to join the angelic choir and whether rapping or simply making a joyful noise help my heart to be bursting with love for you and your gift.
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