"Merry Christmas" as All Hail King Jesus
On the first week day of Advent, a retrospect...
Over the past few years, I have just about had it with Jaded Evangelical Disilusion with Christmas on the one hand, and Flippant Disregard on the other. I heard a bright young person wish his friend a benign "Happy Holidays," in Church, on Sunday; very, very Annoying.
When I lived in a certain little spot in New England, the town square outside one of my family's apartments had a gorgeous and enormous lit Christmas tree in its center; at dusk each night, it illumined its snowy environs along with the glittering snowflake which hung on the charming intersection of Chapel and College. There as now, Starbucks has everything in red (with a ubiquitous "pass the cheer" injunction), and Hark the Herald Angels playing; storefronts are bedecked in green. Christians, of all people, should be hilarious with delight at the way our world resounds with the Gospel at this time of the year.... and all without much effort on our part.
These Christmas symbols mean Something, and they emerge on a ready world each December, to be unveiled along with the implicit Gospel which they signify- twinkling lights, for the Light which shines in darkness; evergreens, because God's creation is renewed with the Incarnation, being returned to the One for whom it was made, death is undone, life can now flourish; red, for the precious life-blood which accomplished it all. We exchange gifts to commemorate the unqualified grace of the cross, the proper Christmas Tree. There is even a poignant story behind Candy Canes.
And what are many Christians doing? They sulk about "commercialism," "pagan solstice origins," "seasonal stress," "holiday blues," and "Market Economy Exploitation of the Season." This year, we may sulk about enduring a holiday at the outset of a recession. Oh COME ON. In a world where one's children may be slowly put to death for the mere confession of Christ, we get to rollick in His fame, and our very storefronts do it with us. This is a winter wonderland for Jesus' followers across the globe. It's amazing.
The Psalmist simply loses it when he describes his vision of his Lord: "my heart is overflowing with a good matter; I speak of the things which I have made for the King. Thou art fairer than all the children of men; grace is poured from thy lips; therefore God has blessed thee forever; in thy majesty ride prosperously... and thy right hand shall accomplish awe-inspiring things. .. I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations; therefore shall the people praise thee forever and ever." (Psalm 45) This is the spirit of Christmas.
Jesus is a rock star in the world at this time of year. Far be it from good Christians to dilute this kind of evangelism. The whole world around us wants to celebrate the Savior to this extent, as we can tell by the lights and tinsle and trees and gift giving madness. Rich and poor alike, throughout the world at large, wait to hear the good news preached to the poor at Christmas. The weary world wants to rejoice, even though maybe all it can do is decorate. But we knew that all along. Let's make their desire a reality at this time of the year.