I'm not a Christmas purist. I'll be the first to admit that I have no problem rotating my Christmas playlist beginning November 1st...and I've even been known to sneak in a carol mid-July (it helps me cool off, ok?)
I've had a lot of time to think about Christmas lyrics and this post has been brewing in my mind for weeks. Our pastor, Glenn, made an observation about Christmas music at church recently that I immediately connected to. He said, "The difference between Christmas music and Christmas carols are that Christmas (or holiday) music creates a fake world in order to try and make you feel happy, whereas Christmas carols BRING JOY in their nature because they are announcing the coming of JESUS--even though it is in an imperfect world."
Yes, I thought. That's the difference. As much as I love to imagine myself walking in a winter wonderland or sitting in front of the perfect fire or thinking about St. Nick clicking on my roof these images only go so far in providing happiness. (Especially once I remember I don't have a fireplace...)
However, consider the lyrics of these carols and what it really means for every day and each season of the year:
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!
Once in Royal David's City
For He is our childhood’s pattern;Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,And He shareth in our gladness.
And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love,
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in Heav’n above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.
Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,We shall see Him; but in Heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.
O Holy Night
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,Ris’n with healing in His wings.
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.
I'm not bashing fun holidays songs--I still love the images and scenarios that these songs conjure up. However, when the snow doesn't fall and the turkey gets burned, it's comforting to remember the real reason that I celebrate the season: Jesus coming, being born to save me.
And that gives me a warmer and more comforted feeling than any image of Santa on a roof ever can.