December 23, 2009

Have a Blessed Christmas

I wonder who wrote "Deck the Halls"? I tried to Google it to get the information, but apparently, no one on the internet knows who really wrote it. I did learn, however, the carols were initially ancient Europe's equivalent of rap and the church initially disproved of carols until it could subvert them to holy purposes. The reason I wonder who wrote that particular carol is because of the line "'Tis the season to be jolly." Really? There is a season for jolliness? Why should we be jolly? After all, for those of us living north of the equator, it is a few days away from the shortest day of the year. For those living in the northern climes, it is usually cold and sometimes dreary and the only colors you see in nature are white/grey/black snow or greyish-yellowish-brown dead grass and stark, leafless trees, with only a little color provided by evergreen trees and yellow snow, thoughfully provided by dogs. Maybe that is why so many people put up Christmas lights, just to add some color to the year.

Furthermore, Christmas time can be the busiest time of the year with gifts to buy and wrap, cookies to make, cards to send out, parties and church events to attend and/or host. There can be very little time to rest up until the "big day". It is usually the days between Christmas and New Years that are the most pleasant for those who don't have to work retail. Then again, I wonder if all of this stuff is a problem that the modern world created. In Tomie DePaola's book, "An Early American Christmas", he shows how people prepared for Christmas even before Thanksgiving, which is when most of us start preparing these days. Therefore, there wasn't as much of a rush of doing and they could really be jolly and thankful and maybe even ponder the wonder of a God who would send His Son to the world as a helpless infant to a poor, young, uneducated couple in a backwater town for the sole purpose of reconciling us to Himself.

I have also thought about Advent a lot this year. Advent is not at all about jolly times, but about having to wait for the Christ to come. Waiting is hard and most people do not think it is pleasant, much less jolly, even if there is something wonderful at the end of it. Isreal had to wait 400 years from the last prophecy of God until the birth of their Savior (which is about the same length of time they had to wait in Egypt until God brought them out of slavery. Coincidence? I don't think so.). So Christ came somewhere around 2000 years ago, which IS a cause of celebration because it meant "God and sinner reconciled". But He is supposed to come again to set up His kingdom, which will have no end and will be completely free from death and pain. Talk about jolly times! And yet, it hasn't happened yet, which means we are still waiting. So I do believe that Christmas should be a time a great joy and celebration, not just of the worldly presents, but the gift of forgiveness and life and renewal that Christ's birth promised and it is a time of waiting--a lovely, bittersweet time.

Joy to the world! Our Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room.