Friday, December 16, 2011

C Is for Christmas

It's that time of year when you can no longer tell a sacred venue from a secular by its taste in music. "O Holy Night" pipes through urban shopping malls while church choirs sing "Jingle Bells." Many long-ubiquitous Christmas songs, such as Irving Berlin's "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas," were created by Jewish songwriters; and the very custom of extravagant celebrations around the time of the winter solstice (which most scholars believe was months removed from Christ's birth) is rooted in the pagan Saturnalia festivals of ancient Rome. 

Through the centuries, serious Christians have varied in their reactions to "the holiday season." Many have called it a selling out to materialism, secularism, even paganism. Even people with little use for Christianity grumble about the spend-a-fortune, wear-yourself-out, gain-twenty-pounds atmosphere that pervades the end of the year--then feel deprived or guilty if they skip any of it. Enjoying endlessly available pleasures in healthy moderation is a discipline that few ever master; doing completely without is comparatively easy.

With all that in mind, I've tried to keep a balance between festivity and reverence in this week's poem. Before you read it, and again after, pause for 3 to 5 minutes and think about how God does take pleasure in seeing us enjoy wholesome Christmas celebrations--when we truly enjoy them, without piling them on to the point where the joy burns out. Then think of how God loved us enough to send Christ from the glories of Heaven to the squalor of earth. (An example for those of us who think we're being incredibly generous by reserving five percent of our holiday budget for charity.)

Take time to nurture a meaningful Christmas in your heart.

C is for Christmas and all that it brings:
H is for Hymns that the Christmas choir sings,
R is for Ringing each jingling bell,
I is for (God with us) Immanuel,
S is for Stocking that's hung up with glee,
T is for Tinsel that gleams on the tree,
M is for Merry with parties and flair,
A is for Advent, a time to prepare,
S is for Savior, the King Who was born:

God bless us all, on this joyous Christmas morn!

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