Christmas in the ordinary2
Let’s play Name That Tune--only this is not an auditory blog, so we’ll use lyrics instead. Recognize this?
There'll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago
You were probably able to identify this as a section from “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Is it? Is this the most wonderful time of the year? In some ways, of course it is. But not because of snow or parties for hosting (especially this year) or much mistletoeing (again, not this year). These are pleasures that enrich our celebration, good gifts from the One who gives us richly all things to enjoy, but as Christians, we know that this is the most wonderful time because we celebrate the Most Wonderful Gift.
The point from Sunday’s sermon, “Love Gives,” referenced the familiar John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not persish but have eternal life.
We know this truth, and we are glad in it, rejoicing in it because that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. But as our pastor also pointed out in Sunday’s sermon, we’re supposed to do something about it. We’re supposed to “put on love,” to put it on above all the other things, and to keep loving one another earnestly, to give it away because we received it freely.
And there’s the hard thing because, while it may be loving to say “Merry Christmas” to people in the stores as I shop and to drop some money in the Salvation Army bucket at Hobby Lobby, the love that we put on “above all these things” is much, much more.
Ever notice how when you are immersing yourself in the study of a passage of Scripture, everything you hear from others sharing God’s word seems to directly relate to what you are studying? That has been the case for me these past weeks while I have been memorizing the Sermon on the Mount as we dig into it for the ladies Bible study. While Rich and Michael have been exhorting us to dress ourselves in compassion, kindness, meekness, and patience, forgiveness and forbearance, and above all--love, Jesus has been reminding me that citizens of his kingdom are characterized by meekness, mercy, peacemaking, rejoicing in persecution, and loving even their enemies. Hmm, I think I see a theme here.
When I have been recently tempted to be angry with my brother for perceived wrongs to myself, or to look at my sister as a “fool,” my attitude has been exposed by Him as hell-worthy. When my heart has been reluctant even today to respond generously to those asking me to share my time, my home, my resources, the street space in front of my mailbox (for that HUGE truck belonging to the neighbor’s boyfriend; why can’t he park it in her driveway?), Jesus has said “if you welcome only those who are in your family, what are you doing out of the ordinary?”
And as our pastor has spoken the very words of God, the Lord has reminded me that because Jesus laid down His life for us, I “ought to lay down [my] life for the brothers.” (1 John 3:16) Oh Jesus, direct my/our hearts into your love so that I/we may be perfect as You are perfect, and that others may see You in us as the love Christmas is truly about.
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
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 power and glory evermore proclaim