What’s your favorite thing about Christmas? I like the yummy foodstuffs. I love the visits with family. I really enjoy the random traditions, like pigeon-German notes left by Santa, luminarias, Bing Crosby, biscochitos, or Mr. Bean. The general festiveness and joyful feel that prevails in the month of December is amazing. But my favorite? I have two.
My favoritest favorite is the message that is still prominent even though the world tries to stamp it out. Jesus broke through the darkness and despair that bound our earth, defied Satan and his minions, and walked out of Hell holding the keys binding death. He became man, the God-man. He brought us peace with God. He came that the finger of God could rend the veil from the top to bottom. This wasn’t a John Milton sort of redemption, with God staring at Adam and Eve holding the apple, wringing his hands and saying, “What do We do now?” No, this was planned from eternity past. God had a plan, a plot-twist no one alive could have guessed. It began on Christmas. Even the angels gaped, so in awe they couldn’t keep quiet and flew to the first people they could find awake in the middle of the night to share the news. The Lion of Juda became the Lamb of God. He took away the sins of the world. And it all began with the birth we celebrate at Christmas.
I could go rambling on and on about the message and never say anything new. But I hope, even though you do know it, you never grow too used to these truths that you lose the jaw-dropping awe and the belly-shaking joy that comes from the Christmas story.
I promised you two favorites (which doesn’t really work, but I’m ignoring the contradiction in terms), and here’s the other.
I love Christmas carols. I love the hymns! The words and the joy and the festive alive-ness of the Christmas carols make me grin from ear to ear every year. It doesn’t matter how many times I hear them, the Christmas carols get me every time. Most of it, of course, is rooted in the first favorite, the fact that the carols carry the message.
Christmas carols are poems about the wonder and joy and the truths of His story. Of Jesus breaking into our world. Of our hope revealed, and solidified, and sealed to our souls. Of a Savior Who knows our joys and gladness, and feels our sadness too. Of joy to the world. Of peace henceforth from God to man. They are carriers of truths that never grow old. Jesus knows our human frailness. He is fully man, as well as fully God. I don’t understand how both can exist together, but I know they do, in one Man with a capitol M. The new Adam, born of woman to break the curse and stomp on the serpent’s head. The Christmas carols tell us this, and they don’t just tell us. They exult in it, they warble the news, some even scream it. Jesus is come. Now, is the time of our redemption. History has led up to this point. Jesus has broken into the world.
There is one other reason I love the carols, though it is also bound up in the message they carry.
Christmas is the time for shopping, as everyone knows. I don’t think our family goes crazy over it, but we do the shopping too of course, and duck in and out of grocery stores constantly as we forget things needed for the current peppermint-chocolate-gooiness-crunch being concocted in the kitchen. During this one time of the year, you step inside a store and hear hymns drifting over the speaker system. While looking for the perfect sweater for Uncle Bill, you suddenly notice the popular singer over the radio singing about Jesus being the hope of all the world. And then you notice the little girl a few sweater stacks down singing along. And the checkout lady bobbing her head in time to the music. Everywhere you go, the Christmas hymns jump out of the cracks, in between Santa Clause watching you while you sleep, or the trees covered in tinsel, or the snowy landscapes. Sometimes it’s even Santa trying to get through the cracks between the hymns.
For this one month, people all over the world are singing songs of praise and love to Jesus Christ. Granted, a lot of the people are still lost and don’t mean the words they sing, which is heartbreaking to contemplate. But still. Everywhere you go, you can watch people singing their hearts out in praise of our Savior. The radios blare it. Choirs are reveling in it. Neighbors are walking around knocking on doors and singing the truths straight to you. Grocery stores are blaring the truths of God over their speaker systems. Everywhere you go, hymns are sounding.
And that’s a tiny taste of heaven; a place where every soul sings God’s praise day and night. Sing along, and let your heart be merry with this tiny taste of what our real home will be like.