For I’ve grown a little leaner,
Grown a little colder,
Grown a little sadder,
Grown a little older,
And I need a little angel,
Sitting on my shoulder,
Need a little Christmas now (“We Need a Little Christmas 1)
Here we are in the final days before celebration of the incarnation. Our outside Christmas lights have been on each night at sundown since Thanksgiving evening. Just about every room inside the house has been dressed with decorations and lights, while various tart burners distribute fragrances throughout our home, adding to the festive atmosphere. Our home is also filled with the sound of carols. Inside our home, Christmas is here again – as long as the television news channel is not on.
Outside, wars and rumors of wars abound. We are often told that some conflict or other could spark WW3. Here in America, it seems that we are still locked in a cold war against each other. Fierce political battles are waged on the airwaves and Facebook. Family members and lifetime friends are unfriending one another and parting company over issues, which, although important, will be forgotten in a few days in favor of fresh arguments, leaving mostly sadness, unresolved anger, and a little more darkness in their wake.
We want peace, but it seems there is no peace. In many ways the stanza from “We Need a Little Christmas” is reflected back to us as we prepare for Christmas this year. Certainly, it isn’t a spiritual song, but many would agree that in this emotionally draining year our culture has “grown a little colder, grown a little sadder, grown a little older.” We do need something to get us refocused and to bring peace back into our hearts.
Traditionally, at this time of year we have sermons and articles telling the story of the birth of the Savior. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her of her coming pregnancy: She will be blessed to conceive and carry the Son of the Most High! Joseph, naturally upset by Mary’s pregnancy, also receives a visit from an angel, who tells him that that he should go ahead and marry her because the child she is carrying is from God. The Son of God is born in a stable in Bethlehem. Shepherds in the field hear angels sing of His birth and rush to see Him. A star appears, and Wise Men come from afar to worship the newborn King. We all know the story, and many of us love it dearly.
We find this birth was prophesied many centuries beforehand in Isaiah 9:6:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.
This heavenly birth was visited upon people who lived at a time of great darkness:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. (Isaiah 9:2)
What could make one feel leaner, colder, sadder, and older than dwelling in darkness? Darkness drains the life out of a person. The Apostle John picks up on this theme (and perhaps points back to Isaiah 9:2), when he writes,
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. (John 1:4-9)
Sadly, when Jesus came into the world, many did not receive Him. (John 1:11) Many rejected him. This rejection of God and His Son is the root of all the darkness still in the world today. To receive Christ is to believe in Him. It involves the heart and the will. One doesn’t receive Christ by going to a church or engaging in a religious ritual. And no one is born into the faith as one might be born into an Irish or Italian family. Each must believe in and receive Christ personally. No priest, no minister, no one’s parents – no one can believe for another – no one can confer salvation on another. Salvation is a direct interaction between the person and God. One must CALL upon the Lord! Romans 10:10 and 10:13:
For it is with the heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved…Everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved.
When one believes in Christ and receives Him, that person becomes a child of God.
Yet, to all who did receive Him, to those who believed on His name, he gave the right to become children of God – Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)
Christians, take heart! Though we may be surrounded by darkness, Christians do not LIVE in darkness. By faith (belief) in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, we have been born again and are, in fact, indwelt by the Light of the World! We are children of God! Every year that passes brings us closer to the return of our King and true peace on Earth! May we all be blessed in our celebration of the day He entered this world and blessed us with His light.
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- From Jerry Herman’s 1966 Broadway musical, Mame, ↩