Monday, December 18, 2006

Merry Christmas

Christmas is close at hand. It's my favorite holiday and time of the year. I was standing in church this week and looked up at the screen displaying the lyrics to a favorite Christmas carol.

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing."
The arrangement was more modern than I care for. It seemed to be somewhere between Van Halen's "Jump" and something by Coldplay. I'm becoming increasingly annoyed as the church tries so hard to be relevant that we leave behind those things that need to remain timeless. I went to my niece's Christmas program the other night and there was choreography that looked like something a boy-band would do! What happened to simplicity? The message of Christmas does not need this kind of marketing for crying out loud! My niece did a perfectly lovely solo on a normal song. She did a great job and it helped aleve the snit that I have been fighting lately.

Even though the carol had backbeat and syncopation that was not intended by the original writer, the lyrics still spoke to me, especially the phrase "Let every heart prepare Him room". Christmas is the time when we are supposed to make room for God in our lives.

What does that mean? God does not live in a room, he does not occupy space and time the same way that we do, he doesn't need a guest room, or get mad if there is no little mint on his pillow. God is a spirit, so the idea of making room for him leads us to the idea of making room for Him in our hearts, thoughts, desires, and all that we are, since he is not a flesh and blood person.

While that is true, I think some people think that since God is not flesh and blood, there is no real need for any concrete, worldly actions to love Him. Going to church, thinking a happy thought, and throwing a buck into the bellringer's bucket seems to be all some of us need to do and are able to walk away feeling very pleased with ourselves. If we look to His Word, he doesn't let us off so easily.
"If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar.
For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen,
cannot love God, whom he has not seen." ~I John 4:20
We could ask all of the questions that go with this verse, "Who is my brother?", "What does it mean to love?", etc., etc. . But I prefer to cut through all the liberal-arts crap of questioning everything to death, and look at it this way: loving those around you is loving God.

At Christmas time, I always think back to one of my favorite parts of "A Christmas Carol", by Charles Dickens. This is the speech that Fred makes to Scrooge:
"But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas-time,
when it has come round-apart from the veneration due
to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging
to it can be apart from that-as a good time; a kind, forgiving,
charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of in the long
calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent
to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below
them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave,
and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
And therefore uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold
or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good,
and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"
Christmas time is God's way of reminding us that love without action means nothing. That love is not simply a sentiment, or charitable feelings that come but once a year. Instead, love is messy and complicated. Love chose to be ultimately manifested in the pain of childbirth by a young woman who society did not totally approve of, in a stable full of dirty animals. But love came, through the mud and blood of a lost and cold world, love still pushed it's way through. Love pushed through to give us it's gift, it was to a world that did not recognize the value or even appreciate the value of the gift given at the time.

The message of Christmas is that we need to do as God did and reach out in love to the world around us, no matter how messy or uncomfortable it may feel at the time.

Merry Christmas,



At 8:02 AM, Blogger Alan Micah said...

Good post. Merry Christmas.

At 2:39 PM, Blogger AnonymousCog said...

Thanks for stopping by.

Merry Christmas to you.


At 4:22 PM, Blogger mr. kyle said...

Just returning the favor. Merry Christmas to you sir.

At 5:18 PM, Anonymous andrena said...

amen AC, amen...

thanks for thinking of me and blessed Christmas to you and yours!!!

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Wayne said...



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