I do not know about you, but I have found great meaning and peace in the music of this season this year. I can confidently tell you that on a personal level I have never listened to as much Christmas music in a single season before in my entire life. I suppose I have needed the nostalgia, the comfort, and the hope as I have navigated this time of anxiousness and uncertainty. But in my listening, I noticed something I had not noticed before. Christmas music is remarkably optimistic. Of course, we think of it as joyful, but this year it wasn’t just the joy that stood out, but the optimism. Christmas music is a glass half-full looking at the world through rose-colored glasses type of genre.
Consider these lyrics:
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
“It’s the hap-happiest season of all.”
“Have a holly jolly Christmas. It’s the best time of the year.”
“…what a beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight.”
“…from now on all our troubles will be miles away.”
But as I listened to these lyrics, indeed as I sang along, some of them felt disingenuous to me. This Christmas, after all, may not be the most wonderful for many people who will be celebrating it alone or differently. This Christmas may reflect more of the fear of the shepherds when the angel appeared in the sky than the haste and excitement they felt racing to see the newborn king.
I like Christmas music, but in this regard I think some of our favorite Christmas songs lead us astray. They invite us into a sort of Christmas celebration that pretends everything is fine and hopes for a holiday that is picture perfect. But is that really what Christmas is all about?
Of course not. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Christmas isn’t a recognition of the beauty of the world, but of God’s presence and activity in the brokenness of it. Santa comes because we are nice. Jesus was born because humanity is naughty and in need of a Savior. Christmas carols may invite us to sing about how wonderful everything is, but Christmas itself bids us to sing instead of God’s decisive and redemptive activity in a hurting world.
So as you celebrate Christmas this year and blast your favorite holiday songs, if your reality isn’t matching up to the picture painted by Bing Crosby or the Carpenters’ Christmas album, remember our carols are best sung in moments of need. On the darkest day of the year, we light candles and remember that Jesus is the light of the world.
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.