“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” So begins a popular Christmas song. One of my grandsons tweeted on Thanksgiving, “Be prepared, my friends. These are the last hours before we are bombarded by Christmas music and peppermint flavored everything.” Here at Fairview the big tree is up and decorated in the main hall; many thanks to Bill, Edwin, Lori and Sheila for making that happen. There are banners and wreaths in the gym for church services on Sundays. The Christmas programs will take place next week. The kids are excited. I think, if we’re honest, we’re all excited by this time of year.
However, as I have been following the news of late, I began to wonder if it really is “beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” It seems that every day the news is filled with some type of tragedy. Lives are being shattered in so many ways. There are protests of injustices both here and around the world. Last night, as I was thinking about this conundrum, I began to realize that the fact that there is unrest all around us is actually what makes everything “begin to look like Christmas.”
Oh, the unrest and tragedy around us is not what we like to focus on at Christmastime. It’s much nicer to concentrate on cookies, presents and hot chocolate sipped in front of a blazing fire. But those warm, fuzzy feelings are only what we have grown to expect around Christmastime. The truth of the matter is that Christmas is the celebration of God’s Son, Jesus, coming into this world to bring light into the darkness. That first Christmas was not so unlike what we experience in the world today. People were oppressed, there was a great divide between the wealthy and the poor, beatings and robberies occurred daily. The world into which Jesus came was extremely hostile. But that’s the point. Early in Jesus’ ministry He read these words from Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And then He told those listening, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” That was His mission. That is why He came. That is what we celebrate at Christmastime.
Unfortunately, many in the world would still rather live in darkness and oppression than to accept the gift of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Perhaps as we approach the Christmas season this year, we can remember the words of Longfellow from his poem “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” which he penned during the American Civil War.
“And in despair I bowed my head:
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said.
‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men.’
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, goo will to men.’”
Conquering in the Love of Christmas,