God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What is Christmas about?

I was sitting with a group of kids getting ready for the Christmas play in worship one Christmas.  While we were waiting for everyone to arrive, I asked them what they wanted Santa to bring them for Christmas.  One of them told me a DSI, one said a special Barbie.  I said I wanted an ice cream maker.  A 3 year old little girl, in her Cindi Lou who costume with red cheeks, pigtails, and twirly dress, looked at me very solemnly and said, "Santa only brings toys."  Santa only brings toys.   

I remember one Christmas morning

A winters light and a distant choir

And the peal of a bell and that Christmas Tree smell

And their eyes full of tinsel and fire

They sold me a dream of Christmas

They sold me a Silent Night and they sold me a fairy story
These little ones were a quiver of excitement that Santa was coming to bring them a dream.  The dream for Christmas was of packages and the bearded man with his toys.  This story came back to me this year as I thought about our Christmas dilemma.  Where will we be Sunday Christmas Morning?  Some churches are canceling services.  So when we make a choice about Christmas day and spending it with family will we take time during the day to remember the reason for the celebration?
In the song, I Believe in Father Christmas, the author contrasts the belief in Father Christmas with the belief in the Israelites, the rain with the virgin’s tears.  On Sunday December 25th will we remember the magic of Christmas is a story of the coming birth of babies who will grow up to change the world?  The Gospel of Luke begins with the stories of two coming babies, the struggles the families go through to have these babies and the hope these babies represent.   
This Christmas we will sing Zechariah’s Song from Luke 1:68-79, about his new baby John, the Baptist.  In this song / prayer, the baby will help to usher in the dawn from on high.  He will be great in the sight of the Lord and filled with God's Spirit.  He will turn people to the Lord.  He will prepare the people for the One who is coming to bring salvation.  
68 "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.  76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.  78 By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

We will also sing Mary’s love song to God and her child in Luke 1:46-55.  She sings of our God who looks on us with mercy, our God is on the side of the poor and hungry, and fulfills the promises made to our ancestors.  
"My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

So this Christmas will we believe in this dream and hope for a Christmas of salvation and peace.  As Bono sings "I wish ... at Christmas we get what we deserve."  May we meet this season the God of the Israelites, the God behind the plan of salvation who turns the world upside down and inside out.  As Mary and Zechariah sing, even when we experience anguish, pain and sorrow, will we remember the God of Mercy who sends babies to change the world.
I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave New Year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear

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