Christmas isn’t Christmas ’til…
by Mervyn Morelock, Lt. Colonel –
Every Sunday of Advent, our corps has been singing a song: “Christmas isn’t Christmas ‘til it happens in your heart.”
Somewhere deep inside you, that’s where Christmas really starts.
So give your heart to Jesus, you’ll discover when you do,
That it’s Christmas, really Christmas for you.”
Has Christmas “happened” in your heart?
With our newspapers and TV news full of sadness and disasters, it may be difficult to find “Christmas in your heart.” The economy, new leaders of our country, the news of bombings and strife in the world can make one feel a sense of hopelessness. Many in our world today are moving toward a Christmas, feeling the horizon closing in with darkness and gloom. We need to avoid becoming “Those who have winter but no Christmas.” The phrase comes from and old English Methodist hymn:
To the message of Thy birth,
Who have winter, but no Christmas
Bringing them Thy peace on earth,
Send to them the joyful tiding;
By all people, in each home,
Be there heard the Christmas anthem;
Praise to God, the Christ has come!”
He came to the shepherds who went to the manger in Bethlehem with high and holy expectations and joyfully welcomed a King, a Priest, and a Savior. Theirs was a sorry world. The future was anything but bright. Poverty, slavery, and a general gloom seemed to be their lot. Who could point to this motley group as one with high expectations about the future? For them it was monotonous routine. That is, until they went to Bethlehem and found the world was changed.
Many are gloomy this year. Not everyone is looking forward to Christmas with childlike exuberance and enthusiasm. Christmas shopping becomes a frustrating and painful experience for those who have lost their jobs, and for many, the loss of their home. Many are fearful for their loved ones serving in dangerous places overseas.
The Bethlehem shepherds were not professional theologians. But they shared the confident hope of their people that God would one day redeem his people from their slavery and poverty and sin. Every mother looked into the cradle where her baby son lay, and hopefully prayed that he might be The One who would become the agent of the redemption and salvation of God’s people. So, in a sense, the shepherds were a prepared group when the angelic chorus announced the great good news of Christmas.
Christmas brings the assurance that the God of hope is able to sustain our life and our world. Come what will, God’s strength continues to endure. Let tragedy strike, let catastrophe come, let material securities disappear, Christ came to remind us that God’s love and power will outlast and outlive all other securities in the world. We need that assurance this year.
In the year 1513, a Father Giovani wrote the following Christmas greeting:
I can give you which you have not;
But there is much that, while I cannot give you,
You can take.
No heaven can come to us unless
Our hearts find rest in it today.
No peace lies in the future which
Is not hidden in the present.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow;
Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy…
And so at Christmas time,
I greet you with the prayer, that for you,
Now and forever,
The day breaks and
The shadows flee away.
Are you allowing Christmas to “happen” in your heart?