Published: Nov 27, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Nov 27, 2012 06:22 PM
You know those houses you pass that are covered with lights and blow-ups and candy-cane path lights and life-size nativity scenes?
Well, our house looks kind of like that this time of year but we keep it all on the inside.
We have a tree with about a thousand lights and ornaments, a bunch of those dancing, singing table-top things that use a lot of batteries (like the Homer Simpson in a Santa suit that sings, among other things, Deck the Halls with Buddy Holly, fa-la-la-la-la...)
We have nutcrackers on every surface, stockings hung by the chimney with care, lights around the windows, Hallmark figurinage, seasonal throw pillows and quilts, Christmas coffee table books...
Its kind of insane, but I love it.
And our family has its seasonal traditions: regular events like marching with the Cub Scouts in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Holiday Parade, visiting Santa at a mall and getting together with our extended family, like at our annual family turkey throwdown where we throw down a large amount of holiday vittles and try to tell each other everything we wanted to say during the previous year.
Ive never really gotten over the sweet magic of Christmas, and I love passing it on to my kid. I know that as a Christian, I am supposed to be appalled at the commercialization of it all, and freaked out by how the secular world has co-opted the celebration of the birth of Our Lord ... but Im just not. And while it wouldnt hurt anyone to rein in their spending and maybe go to church on Christmas Eve, Im not the least bit bothered by the state of Christmas today.
Instead of imagining that the world has stolen our celebration of Christ, I prefer to see it as the time when our celebration of Jesus invades the world! When else do you turn on commercial radio and hear someone singing about adoring Christ the Lord? We watched last years tree lighting at Rockefeller Center, and were surprised to see Neil Diamond, a nice Jewish fellow, singing Christmas carols ... and not just the ones about snow and chestnuts roasting on an open fire! Its like everything is turned upside down!
I have a great Christmas album called Christmas Time, which has a bunch of North Carolina artists on it including Peter Holsapple singing O Holy Night. It is a mellow, non-pompous, very earnest rendition my favorite version so far. Whenever I hear it, though, my head is filled with questions like, Why is he singing this? Does it mean anything to him? Does he just think its a good song? Or is he just singing it to help his friend and fellow dB
Chris Stamey who is putting the record together? Is he just hoping to make some money from it?
Not that its any of my business
and really, who cares? I love hearing it, and whatever his reason for singing it, at least for the time it took to rehearse and record it, he was actually conscious of Jesus if hes not normally. And then whenever all the connoisseurs of local music listen to it, THEY will be aware of Jesus, even if theyre not listening to the words, and its just creeping through the back door of their minds... Because God can be sneaky that way.
I once heard a Christmas Eve sermon which referred to an incident at Jesus death. See, when He was on the cross and breathed his last breath, the temple curtain split in two. (Ill give a little background here: in the Jewish temple, there was a secret area called the Holy of Holies and no one was allowed in there except a priest, and he could only go in one time a year
or he would DIE. Im not sure why maybe because God is so great and wild and glorious, no one can stand to be that close to Him
Anyway, the speaker went on to say, and I paraphrase: We normally think that the curtain split because Jesus death made it possible for ANYONE to come into Gods Presence. But I like to think it was so God could spill out .... out into the main temple area, into the court of women, farther out into the court of the Gentiles ... and then across the world. Because Jesus message His birth, life and death are for everyone all over the world. As Joy to the World says, "far as the curse is found." The shepherds were grubby itinerants ... the Wise Men were foreigners possibly sorcerers, but they were told, right?
And even if Christmas as we know it is busy and gaudy and Mariah Carey in a sexy Santa suit and Justin Bieber singing All I Want for Christmas Is You, its also a time when the name of Christ is OUT THERE ... invading the airwaves, our schedules ... maybe our souls!