In Case You Missed It

Aaron Earls published an article at his personal blog earlier this week reminding us that it is okay to not have a “perfect Christmas.” Aaron writes:

Approaching Christmas, we have all these images of what our seasonal celebrations will look like.

We will find the perfect gift for everyone on our list. We will bake the best cookies in our perpetually immaculate kitchen. Our house will have the perfect decorations that were placed perfectly around our home without any hint of disagreement from our spouse or complaining from our children.

Speaking of our children, they will be in perfect health the entire Christmas break and in perfect harmony as they sing carols at church without ever misbehaving during the multiple services.

They’ll be no traffic jams on the road or long lines at the mall. Every trip will be short, sweet and full of precious memories with our family and friends.

Of course, then we wake up to our sick kid in our messy house with our half finished shopping list starring us in our face. Despite imagining an idyllic scene every year, the reality never leaves up to those images. So why do we stress out trying to bring about those impossible recreation of a perfect Christmas card scene?

It’s not like the first Christmas was “perfect” from a worldly perspective, even though we even try to reimagine it that way.

At Desiring God, Phillip Holmes has written a blog discussing the traditional Christmas hymn: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing“.

When I was growing up, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by Charles Wesley (revised by George Whitfield) was one of my favorite Christmas songs — but the point of the first line went completely over my head.

Don’t get me wrong, I understood lines like “Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled” and “Light and life to all he brings, Risen with healing in his wings / Mild he lays his glory by, Born that man no more may die.” However, there was that lead archaic imperative that escaped me for years: Hark! (Listen!).

Dr. Albert Mohler published an article earlier this week discussing the real meaning of Handel’s “Messiah.”

[Handel] began composing on August 22, 1741 and completed the entire massive work in just twenty-four days of breathtaking intensity. … Messiah is arranged into three great parts. The first presents the promise of salvation and focuses upon the birth of Christ as the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Messiah. The second part tells of the work of redemption and looks especially to the cross and resurrection of Christ. The third part looks to the final consummation of God’s purpose of salvation in the future.

Every word of the oratorio comes from the Bible and is based mainly in the King James Version. The power of Handel’s majestic composition is evident in the fact that most of us cannot hear many of these biblical texts without hearing also the refrains of Handel’s greatest oratorio.

At the Peoples Next Door blog, Keelan Cook reminds us that we may be home for Christmas, but many will not.

In just a few hours I will be hitting the road for Tennessee. This morning, the local news in Raleigh said the security line at the airport was so long it went outside the building and around the corner. It is Christmastime, and that means it is time to head home for the holidays.

Going home for the holidays is a tradition for so many. It is just what we do. We write songs about it. We make movies about it. I cannot count the number of movies that turn going home for Christmas into a comedy of errors. The whole idea is somewhat sacred and expected. As I hurriedly packed the last sweaters into my bag this morning, in a rather foul mood I might add, a thought crossed my mind.

I have a home to go to.

At the GC2 Summit, I heard startling statistics of Syrian displacement. Some 13 million people, mostly children, have been displaced in Syria. That is half of the country’s population. Half.

Finally all of us at Between the Times and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary would like to wish you a Merry Christmas!