Monday, October 24, 2011

Christmas Creeps into October


Christmas music crept onto my IPod this month.  No stealthy invasion this;  first, the IPod error sound then suddenly I am listening to O Holy Night.  A curse that commercializes or a blessing?  I can walk into Lowes or Kmart and see Christmas decorations and shudder at the rampant commercialism, each store trying to beat the others in Christmas sales.  And it jars me because I am not yet ready to think about Christmas when leaves still decorate the autumn trees.


But somehow, this October, the words of O Holy Night do not strike me as commercial, or out of place, or jarring.  In fact, for two days O Holy Night was all I listened to during my morning dog walk (prayer time).  Let me tell you why.

A young woman is gunned down on the sidewalk, meth labs are raided by police, my neighbor clear cut virtually all of his trees, the United States is bankrupt, bills are piling up, and sometimes it's all too much for me to bear.  I don’t even know how to pray. 

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Now I have the words to offer my heartache to God.  There is someone greater than the sin and error in our world.  “Jesus, let them look to you to relieve them of sin and error.  Heal your land.  Let us see you in your holiness.  Let us know you; Only you give worth to our souls.  When we truly know our worth, we won’t harm, we won’t kill, we won’t destroy.  And then a new and glorious morn will break and we will fall on our knees and hear the angel voices.  Come Lord Jesus, come; we need you.”  And then,

A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

But, there’s more:

Truly He taught us to love one another;
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.

Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother.  In an instant, I am standing with the victims of crime, with the police as they confront drug dealers, with nature as it stands against the abuse.  All who don’t know Jesus’ worth (and therefore, their own) are slaves: slaves to sin, slaves to greed. And such are you and I without Jesus.  The slave is indeed my brother, for only Jesus frees us both and brings us into his family.  “Break the chains, break the oppression,” I ask him.  “Come and make yourself known.”   

I remember that great moment in the movie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where Faun Tumnus stood frozen in the frozen land; frozen and cold, bound in frost, unmoving, unthinking.  Aslan appears and breathes upon his most loved friend.  As Aslan breathes, the ice melts and Tumnus is free.

That is the picture of Jesus.  In his kindness and mercy, he breathes new life into us and frees us.  In his name, by his power, all oppression will cease.  Truly he taught us to love one another.  His law is love and his gospel is peace.  It can’t be any clearer than that.

All at once, this out-of-time Christmas carol has breathed new life into me as I pray for Jesus to bring his kingdom and breathe new life into this world.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!



Celebrate Christmas this October and tell me how you did it.

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