Tuesday, December 25, 2007

What Makes It So Merry?

Christmas carols are an easy thing to dismiss. I’m kind of a scrooge and so I easily tire of Christmas tunes. There are a few advent songs I love (“Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”) and I’m a sucker for any Charles Wesley hymn so I’m always up for “Hark the Herald,” but last night something happened. At the Christmas Eve service at our church we sang a verse to a particular song that I hadn’t heard before (the verse). I don’t know why, but I just hadn’t.

Now, I’m not a scrooge because I don’t like Christmas, I just don’t like the busy-ness. This is actually, theologically, my favorite time of the year. This is when we celebrate the Incarnation. After all, Athanasius said, “God was made man, that man might be made [like] god.” All of salvation begins with a crying baby. But, I tire of all the commerce and materialism (easy for me to say, of course) that I’m just as guilty of as anyone else.

But this year was different. While singing “O Holy Night” we actually sang the last verse. I’ve never heard that verse before. I don’t remember singing it as a child or growing up. As an adult even when caroling we only sing the first verse if at all. The words were written (translated) by John S. Dwight well over a hundred years ago. Dwight was born in Boston and is buried there in Forest Hills Cemetery. Considering all of this, here is the part of the third verse that truly brought me into the presence of Christ this year:

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.

That is the power of Jesus Christ. That by his name every knee shall bow and tongue confess, oh, and don’t forget that slaves will be free and all oppression shall cease. This is the good news of Jesus Christ. This is what makes Christmas truly merry.


Marsha said...

I truly love this hymn--I am not sure why we only sing it at Christmas-time because it is THE gospel in song. Thank you for reminding me of that fact this morning---and

on a personal note---shouldn't you be in the care on the way to see me by now----
Love ya,

Eric said...

It is my favorite Christmas hymn for exactly the reasons you pointed out. Thanks for the help with the orthodox incarnation stuff. The sermon went really well. You can take a look at the church's blog. Peace.

By the way, be grateful you have a Christmas Eve service!!! My grandmother's church didn't. I told her to get on the pastor and tell him it is his JOB to provide holy day worship. I hope I don't get her in trouble!

Eric said...

Anyone for an update? I mean, serliously, its like, Lent already and your still on Christmas.

Marsha said...

what is going on----no more news????