Monday, December 22, 2014

How to Keep Christmas


Sometimes lyrics of popular holiday songs express the wish that Christmas last all year. 

I'm all for keeping the twinkle lights, the extra concerts and shows, the peppermint mocha coffee, the lavish meals, the bonus time with family and friends, and the renewed focus on the wonder of Christ's Advent. But what of the long lines in stores? the snarled traffic? bad weather? frantic schedules? the inevitable weight-gain and post-holiday let-down? the rampant materialism? These we could do without, of course.

In a way, though, Christmas could last all year long, if only we were willing to keep the positive aspects of the season and discard the frivolous. After all, warmth, generosity, hospitality, and good cheer are inherently Christian values, and Christ's Advent into a dark world should always be at the front of our minds.

If you read Tolkien, you may be familiar with these words, spoken by Thorin Okenshield, the conflicted dwarf king of The Hobbit

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

As much as we may love food, cheer, and song, they're not what Christmas is about; however, they're aspects of Christmas that we would do well to diffuse throughout the year.

Protestant reformer William Tyndale, who worked on an early English translation of the Bible, notes that the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion) signifies "good, mery, glad and joyfull tydinge, that maketh a mannes hert glad, and maketh hym synge, daunce, and leepe for joye." (Got to love that early 16th century spelling!)

Euangelion is translated gospel in our English Bibles. How appropriate to focus on this definition at Christmas. I say this not because December is a time when the world comes together with singing, dancing, and good cheer, but because the gospel message is the core of Christmas, and in this manner should we carry it with us through the year: not with dour pronouncements or pompous self-righteousness, but courage, warmth, and unflagging joy.

With "good, mery, glad and joyfull tydinge, that maketh a mannes hert glad, and maketh hym synge, daunce, and leepe for joye."


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