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Ballads.  One of the art forms with which I was raised.  Little did I realize “way back then” that there was more to those ballads than met my ears.  But, I was young, and I was naïve, and I knew very little of the human drama that would eventually work its way into my life.

One of the results of this maturing process is that now I listen to ballads with an emotional attention that was entirely foreign to me “way back then.”  Such is the case with “Midnight train to Georgia.”  It tells me what I would never have understood in my earlier life.  Here is the link to Neil Diamond’s version (www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMcU7g2vpwA), one that grabs my imagination, my emotions, and my appreciation for beauty.

L.A. proved too much for the girl
So she’s leavin’ the place she’s come to be
She’s goin’ back to find what’s left in her world
The world she left behind not so long ago

She’s leavin’ on that midnight train to Georgia
She’s goin’ back, she’s goin’ back
To a simpler place in time
And I’ll be with her on that midnight train to Georgia
I’d rather live in her world than live without her in mine

She kept dreamin’ that someday she’d be a star
But she found out the hard way some dreams don’t come true
So she pawned all her hopes, even sold her car
She bought a one way ticket back to the life that she once knew

She’s leavin’ on that midnight train to Georgia
She’s goin’ back, she’s goin’ back to a simpler place in time
And I’ll be with her on that midnight train to Georgia
I’d rather live in her world than live without her in mine

Yes and I’ll be with her on that midnight train to Georgia
I’d rather live in her world than live without her in mine
Yes I would, yes I would.

For the past weeks this piece has been on my mind.  The Christmas season has made me even more sensitive to it.  The unnamed fellow loves the girl so much that he will surrender his familiar and comfortable place and status to be with the woman he loves, even if her place is unknown and flung thousands of miles away.  Love trumps place and distance.  Love trumps circumstances.   Love trumps separation.  Love buys the ticket to be on the midnight train to Georgia.

And then there is Christmas.  Is Jesus’ love, which comes to our mind so naturally during this Advent season, any less than that of the fellow on the train to Georgia??  Are we fearful of importing the inappropriate into our understanding of the incarnation of the Son of God?  Is His love less than that of the fellow on the midnight train?  Is the Son of God not willing to taste and drink to the last dregs the life and death of humanity?  Is He not willing to leave the lights of LA for the red clay of GA?  Isn’t Jesus described in this way — “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13.1).  The Son of God, who left the “heavenly palaces” to be with those He loves and who live on this place and in this space, knows what it is to ride the midnight train to Bethlehem.  He knows what it means to say, “I’d rather live in her world than live without her in mine.”  What a portrait of what Godly love does!

Of course, God’s plan is that His children eventually will live in His world with Him.  But, in the meantime, He’d rather live in our world with us than live without us in His.  What a God!  What a love!  Who in his right mind would pass up the chance to be sitting next to the Jesus who takes that midnight train to Georgia???