Every year I marvel as I hear a Christmas carol’s lyrics again for the first time and discover that the writer apparently saw and understood a God unlike what many of us have been taught. In the Christmas love story there is no room for asides about God’s wrath and judgment or His requirement for our obedience and piety. The wonderful expression of God’s Love for mankind, as heralded in Christ’s birth, is undiluted by these negatives; and that fact echoes gloriously in the words of songs like Joy to the World and O, Holy Night. The nature of God is reflected more accurately during the Christmas season than at any other time of the year, and that is the reason why many find Christmas to be their favorite time of the year and why they lament the absence of its spirit the rest of the time.
This particular year I have been struck by the lyrics of the carol, O Holy Night. The words and melody have thrilled me for ages, but only recently have I noted the insight which the lyrics provide into the workings of God’s redemption as announced at the birth of Christ. Take the lines- 'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth. The birth of Jesus redefined the worth of the human soul for the entire world to see. I am worthy because God so loved the world. Then consider this line- For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. The advent of Christ announced the dawning of God’s Eternal Day. That day does not await some yet future event in an as yet incomplete redemption. Then we see these words- Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming – Notice that the beaming light of faith cannot be your faith or my faith; it is the guiding light of God’s Love and His faithfulness. And finally, we have this summation- His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease. Love, peace, freedom, and brotherhood were the promised blessing at Christ’s birth. Those aspects of our theology that don’t promote and dispense these same elements to mankind are necessarily bogus.
When I consider the essential truth captured so marvelously in these songs, I am left to wonder why we don’t sing them all year long. They convey the essence of God and Christ better and more profoundly than many of the hymns we normally use. Let’s have a Holy Christmas season all year long by rejecting those religious messages which make the rest of the year the less than joyful season. Listen to the angels and focus on their proclamation every moment of the year.