The NewReleaseToday staff has been moved by the beautiful poetry and profound statements made in Hillsong's first-ever Christmas album, The Peace Project. Some NRT staffers took a moment to share their reflections on these songs in a combined devotional that we hope will speak to you this holiday season (and beyond).
Make sure to pick up The Peace Project where you get music. (Spotify / Apple Music / Amazon)
"Peace Upon The Earth" by Caitlin Lassiter, News Editor
The Son in a manger shall heal the blind and broken / His love shall warm the coldest soul / As the snow is melted by the dawn / 'Neath the stars choirs of angels raise their heavenly voices / Glory to God and peace upon the earth
Webster's Dictionary defines peace as freedom from disturbance. Maybe you read that and think, with so much going on in the world these days, how can we possibly get to a place of peace? Our answer echoes through the Scripture where Christ tells us that where His spirit is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17). He offers freedom from the stress of worrying about how life will turn out, freedom from the burdens of the news and fear of disaster. The only place we'll ever find true peace is a place that's been available to us from the moment He first arrived in a manger: in His presence.
As Hillsong Worship beautifully sings in this new song, Peace entered the world on what was probably a pretty chaotic evening. A young woman scared to death, a young father who didn't quite know what to expect, and the uncertainty of a birth in a lonely, cold stable. And yet, through the chaos of those circumstances, Peace entered the world. Peace took on flesh and entered as an unassuming baby, wrapped Himself in human likeness and walked among us. Peace came, and we have a promise that Peace will never leave.
"Seasons" by Marcus Hathcock, Executive Editor
Maybe, like me, you haven't had a great 2017. You've felt the stresses that have stretched and pulled at you--from a global, national, community and internal level. There are times in our lives--whether it be a bad day, a bad month or a bad year--where life on this rock seems lonely, hopeless and bleak. It can feel like winter, cold and seemingly devoid of any life.
Sometimes we can convince ourselves that these tough seasons are the new normal, that things will always be the way they are today. But the truth is, they won't. Whether God relieves our suffering now or in the life to come, He will do that, and in the meantime, there are blessings and lessons and gifts he has for us--most of all, the promise of His presence.
The song "Seasons" has been one of my lifelines in this year. The promises it relays are life-giving and beautiful: "Though the winter is long, even rich the harvest it brings / Though my waiting prolongs even greater, Your promise for me like a seed / I believe that my season will come."
Seasons are just that: Seasons. God has built seasons into our world as a way of bringing new life, and as a way for us to have context for the other parts of life. Each season makes sense in the context of the other seasons. We know that leaves fall to the ground during autumn to make room for new life in the spring. We appreciate the heat of summer with the chill of winter in mind, and see the rains of spring as heralding the coming beauty of flora.
In the second verse, there's a prayer that has become my own: "Like a fire to the snow, I'm renewed in Your warmth / Melt the ice of this wild soul, till the barren is beautiful." In those tough seasons, we remember the beauty of the promise of Immanuel: God with us. His presence, His incarnational power in our lives is what gives seasons meaning. It doesn't just get us through the hard times, but it gives us context for hard times. He is the reward, and what a reward He is.
If you're struggling after a tough 2017, take heart: He is with you. He is with us. May the warmth of His presence melt the iciness of our hearts and start to bring about the change. I believe that our season will come.
"Prince of Heaven" by Kevin Davis, Lead Contributor
This very reverent recording by Brooke Ligertwood ("What a Beautiful Name," "Soon," "Desert Song" and "Hosanna") found on the The Peace Project album will have you hanging on every word that Brooke tenderly sings. Her vocals will soothe your soul and the vertical lyrics will all direct your attention on our King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus. This song is a great way to thank Jesus for our undeserved gift of grace. Grace is freely given and isn't something we can earn by our good works. It is a gift from God by faith in Christ Jesus. The gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ started at Christmas and continues until we see Him face to face.
A Bible passage that captures the essence of this song is Philippians 2:5-11 (VOICE): "In other words, adopt the mindset of Jesus the Anointed. Live with His attitude in your hearts. Remember: Though He was in the form of God, He chose not to cling to equality with God, But He poured Himself out to fill a vessel brand new; a servant in form and a man indeed. The very likeness of humanity, He humbled Himself, obedient to death--a merciless death on the cross! So God raised Him up to the highest place and gave Him the name above all. So when His name is called, every knee will bow, in heaven, on earth, and below. And every tongue will confess "Jesus, the Anointed One, is Lord," to the glory of God our Father!"
What a great way to reflect on the miracle of Christmas. God came down as a baby, gave Himself to us, our Creator and our King. It is a very powerful Christmas song that really challenges you to think about the sacrifice that our King Jesus made on our behalf. Whenever I'm tempted to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the commercial Christmas season, a song like this one can help me focus on the true meaning of Christmas, which is to stop and be in awe of Jesus, the Prince of Heaven. To celebrate the gift of grace this Christmas and all year, remember and with gladness sing, "We can know Him, this Prince of Peace, In light of mercy, confess our sin; lay our burdens at Jesus' feet." Amen to that!
"When I Think Upon Christmas" by Micah Garnett, Publicity Manager
In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it can often be difficult to find time to sit down and remind ourselves of the true meaning of Christmas. "When I Think Upon Christmas" is a special song because it focuses on the why of Christmas, along with our natural reaction to it. As the song suggests, Christmas is not a passive holiday. The wonderful, miraculous story should elicit a response of wonder, awe, and worship in us. May it never become stale.
As we go about our daily tasks, I would challenge us to take time to step back and reflect on the true meaning behind all of the songs, presents, and festivities that we take part in. How does it make you feel? The song says: "When I think upon Jesus /The King of all days / I can't help but respond / With an offering of praise / Like the wise men and shepherds / I'll follow Your light / Like the angels I'll lift Your Name high." In a time where hope seems to be fading, let us be the light to a hopeless world. Let's "rejoice in his name" and live our lives as an active show of worship for the world to see.
"Silent Night (With Savior King)" by Mary Nikkel, Associate Editor
"Hope which was lost now stands renewed." Hillsong's mashup of classic carol "Silent Night" and their own staple "Savior King" puts that simple summation of the Gospel front and center, reminding: our silent, darkened nights of the soul are the places God chooses to enter. This is the quiet collision that plays itself out again and again in our own spirits, the coming of Christ's saving presence into our daily lives.
This is a message that can truly set our hearts at peace amid a season that can be chaotic, a time that for many uncovers old restless wounds. We find rest in the reminder that He makes His home with us, wherever we are, even if it's a dark, damp stable on the sketchy side of town. Even if it's exactly the sort of place that most people would deem unimportant. The assurance of Jesus's coming to a place like that is that He comes still to every place that you feel sure has been forgotten. So breathe deep and be at peace: our Savior King is meeting us still in the most silent of nights.
"Arrival" by Kevin McNeese, Founder/President
"Arrival," from Hillsong Worship's latest Christmas album, is a seven-minute original song for the season that packs an enormous amount of poetic celebration about the miraculous birth of Jesus. God in human form. In flesh and blood. From heaven to earth. He has arrived for all mankind.
Each year, we get to balance this incredible truth and what it all means within the busyness of the season. Fortunately, when you actually take time to reflect and pause on the season, of who God is and how He came to us, everything else just seems to melt away. It's a reflection I never tire of, and something I always need as this world encroaches closer and closer, attempting to choke out my ability to swallow this truth.
This never-ending balance of humanity and eternity. Of flesh and spiritual. But He arrived some 2,000 years ago, to disturb what we all knew and provide a path of peace, love and understanding. As you listen to this song, breath deep knowing God is always embracing you and your path. His arrival remains. His presence has not dissipated. And His exit won't be announced. What an entrance.
Assembled from the four corners of North America and many other corners in between, the NRTeam is comprised of staffers whose energy is equally dispersed towards loving music and writing about the music they love.
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