December 17, 2003
You can really tell that Christmas is right around the corner!! Those tell-tale signs of Christmas aren’t too hard to find. The Christmas tree lots have sprung up in many places around town, and many of them have already sold off the majority of their trees. Christmas is coming. As you enter and exit stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and Hy-Vee, the familiar sound of the Salvation Army bells ringing will reach your ears. Yep, it’s pretty obvious, Christmas is right around the corner.
You know what has really made me realize that it is the holiday season? Apart from all the decorations, apart from all the lights, apart from all the “Merry Christmases!” I receive from my friends, the #1 thing that really brings home the reality of Christmas is the music. You know what I am talking about! Christmas music is everywhere! Walk into any department store, holiday tunes are playing. Flip on the TV, many commercials have a “holiday-ditty” in the background. And when you tune into a radio station, odds are you won’t have to wait long to hear a Christmas tune.
Many of us have old favorites that are only sung this time of year. And boy do we love to sing ‘em! I was visiting one of our members the other day at Bryant East and as I walked past the construction area out front, I heard a construction worker just a whistling away to the tune of Jingle Bells. I don’t think he cared if the whole world could hear him! Last Friday, at dinner, one of the men at the table jumped up when “Holly, Jolly Christmas” came on, he declared that this was the “National Anthem of Christmas” and promptly sang along and danced to the beat until the song was over. No joke, it was a little disturbing. And even Vicars are not immune to this Christmas song phenomena, as Sheri and I were cleaning up the house the other day, Jewel’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” came on and I sang along and inserted all the extra lines that I have known since I was about 5 years old. There is something about Christmas and singing that go hand-in-hand.
And while there is nothing wrong with these secular Christmas songs, if those are the only songs in our heart this year, if they are the only songs on our lips, we are guilty of neglecting the greatest gift our God has ever given to us. Maybe there is no song in your heart this season. Maybe, like Scrooge you have “Bah Humbugged” the holidays away. While it may OK to shun the pomp and circumstance of the holiday season, it is never OK to shun Christ or the importance of His birth among us. This Christmas we don’t want to be found without a song in our hearts, and we don’t want to have the wrong song on our lips, so what are we to do?
Tonight in our Gospel lesson we have a great example of a Christmas song. Tonight we heard the words of the very first Christmas song ever sung. This song doesn’t talk about jingling bells, holly, or reindeer. It has nothing to do with snow or sleigh bells or Santa. This song has everything to do with what really makes Christmas Christmas. This song was all about sin and salvation, the free Gift of God’s Grace sent to a fallen human race. This song was all about Jesus.