During the festive season we hear a lot of Bible passages and they wash over us because they are so familiar to us.
So I thought I should take a look at the words of something a little different that has become a staple of the tunes that we hear at this time of year and see what comes to mind from it.
So I made a list and I checked it twice before settling on my selection.
Among the contenders were;
“I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” - I don’t, because it would be awful. When would you buy presents? How would anyone afford to live?There are so many other social, mental and emotional problems that it would bring up!
“Saviours Day” / “MillenniumPrayer” – Obvious choices from the king of Christmas songs – Sir Cliff Richard, but a little too easy.
“Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)” – Yes a Christmas hit from 1971, but no real tie in to Christmas apart from getting Benny Hill mixed up with Benny Hinn, oh that could have consequences, and in a cartoon version of this you would now see a sped up Benny Hinn in a white suit being chased around the stage my some scantily clad ladies with THAT music playing.
John and Yoko
Eventually I settled on something poignant, something that tugs the heart strings a little, with a stirring melody and rousing chorus and a good hearty message of cheer and a hint of subtext. “So this is Christmas”
So this is Christmas,
Yes, yes it is.
And what have you done?
I have bought a lot of presents, wrapped them and put them under a Christmas Tree. I’ve been to school plays, carol concerts, church events and watched quite a few Christmas Specials!
Another year over, a new one just begun.
Well not quite over yet is it? There’s a whole week to go yet!
And so this is Christmas
Yes, you said.
I hope you have fun,
I hope to have fun too.
The near and the dear ones, the old and the young
Yes I want my family to have fun, I want us all to enjoy a good Christmas. It’s definitely a time to make some good memories with each other.
A very merry Christmas, And a happy New Year,
I’ve said that a few times myself over the last few weeks.
Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear.
Well I hope it’s a good one! Wait, what have I got to fear? That I won’t get any presents? And what about those people who live in fear? Fear of attack from a loved one because they’ve had a few too many, fear of the bombs that are falling just yards away from where they live, or those who don’t have homes through circumstances beyond their control. Or those who fear because anxiety is a constant companion…
And so this is Christmas (War is over)
Ahhhh (wait what?)
For the weak and the strong (if you want it)
Yes it’s for everyone (well I do want it to be over)
For the rich and the poor ones (war is over)
Well there’s definitely a difference in the Christmas here, the opulence of the rich and the poverty contrasted. (No it isn’t)
The world is so wrong (if you want it)
Ah now I can agree on that. There is a lot of wrong in the world. (I do want it, but all the wishing in the world can’t make it happen)
And so happy Christmas (War is over)
That’s better, back to safe ground! (No, it’s still going on!)
For black and for white (If you want it)
For yellow and red ones (War is over)
Yes all men and women are created equal, our differences are not as great as our similarities.
Let’s stop all the fight (Now)
Good idea (right away, but there’s not much I can do)
War is over?
And so this is Christmas…and its 45 years later and the wars still rage on around the world. In fact since 1971 when this song was written there have been over 110 wars that were ongoing or were started in these years.
The sentiment behind this song was to remind us with the sweetness of the idea of Christmas that we can bring people together, united by the holiday spirit, that we can take it into our personal choices. We can choose to end personal battles, and of course to peacefully protest about the Vietnam War that was being undertaken at the time by the American government.
Sadly, this message doesn’t seem to have got through! For someone who once claimed that he and his band were “bigger than Jesus” nobody seems to have listened.
Christmas is traditionally a time for peace, even wars have been subject to it in the past with unofficial ceasefires happening in 1914 during the war and carols being sung by both sides in the trenches, even food and chocolates being given from friend and foe. Something in these men gave them compassion for their fellow human beings that would in just a few days be trying to kill them. What can make such a difference?
What we celebrate at Christmas is so much bigger than the fun that Lennon talks of here. It’s not just about families coming together to enjoy each other’s company. It’s not about Santa Claus and the presents that children expect him to bring. Despite not mentioning it, even John Lennon feels it in his lyrics, in fact they are based on it – hope.
The birth of a baby in a shed over 2000 years ago should have been forgotten by now. Yet it remains in our celebration with glimpses of it even in the most secular societies. This baby brought hope to the world both then and now, in that culture it was hope that the Messiah would overthrow the rulers and bring peace – and now the hope is similar that that child can give us inner peace.
The gift of hope
Of course that child could do none of that. He had to grow and become a man. That man talked peace and division, that man spoke hope and death, that man died because of the rulers inability to see the revelation of veiled glory. It wasn’t in the birth that we truly have hope, but in the death and resurrection proving that hope had come to the world. One day God’s Kingdom of peace will be established and God’s Will will be done on Earth - as in Heaven. This is the hope that Christmas brings.
Jesus through his life and death was the ultimate gift. He offered himself to buy our freedom from the things that weigh us down and deny us the presence of God. Imagine being offered a gift from a friend this Christmas time but you refuse to take it! We just don’t do that.
God is offering you a gift that He has been offering since Jesus death. The gift of freedom from punishment, freedom from sin, peace and hope. The choice is yours if you want to take it.
And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?
With the gift that is offered, Jesus the Son