Deepen your Christmas cheer
December 22, 2012 2 Comments
Christmas is nearly here! But the fiscal cliff is looming, the sadness of the Newtown school shooting lingers, and between sequestration and gun control, the national political climate is as sour as ever.
At minimum we have to deal with intransigence across the aisle, and at worst, even the morally milquetoast media has had to churn up some sort of recognition of evil in the world.
So we need not just the feeling but the substance of Christmas about as much as we ever did. Few things speak to that feeling and substance as much as the classic Christmas carols. Not like the several, insipid remakes of the trumpety 70’s standard This Christmas, but like the old, theologically rich hymns. They enrich us with images of heavenly grandeur and poetically remind us not just of our dire rebellion against divinity, but of the awesome grace precipitated with Jesus’ incarnation.
This year I’ve found a couple of hymns particularly inspiring. There’s the splendid grammatical construction in God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, “let nothing you dismay.” And as we sing on, we’re reminded starkly of a dark power at work in the world:
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy
We can enjoy the superficial cheer piped through department store speakers, but our joy is deepest when we countenance real evil, our own fallenness, and know that Christ has overcome these. So in a sense films like The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are quite fitting for the holiday season.
Hark the Herald Angels Sing is another tune that delivers the theological goods with a poetic punch. Within a few short lines near the end, we have unfolded Christ’s humility and the salvation of those who call on him:
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Take a little time to appreciate the noble sentiments that come with the classics this year, and you’ll deepen your sense of Christmas cheer.