Does God like Christmas?
When God gazes earthward in December, he gets an eyeful. He sees frantic shoppers and frazzled employees and kids consuming too many candy canes. He sees parents wringing their hands and retailers counting piles of pennies. He sees shivering, want, greed, and a sickening overabundance of chocolates and fruitcake.
But he also sees other things. God has a bird’s eye view of the widespread giving of gifts and playing of games and gathering of families. He sees the baking of cookies, the clandestine knitting of scarves, and the gluing of homemade ornaments. He sees the stringing of lights and the building of snowmen and the secret sacrifices of parents and grandparents and friends and neighbours. He hears laughing and sledding and wrapping and singing.
The singing must intrigue him. Here we all are together—Christians and agnostics and atheists alike—singing praises to God, although we barely know it. The words of the carols are so familiar to us that we scarcely register their meanings. We merrily bellow: “Let earth receive her King,” whose kingship we hardly mention the rest of the year. Radio stations abandon classic rock and instead play Christmas carols 24 hours a day, and we find ourselves accidentally singing along to words like:
Light and life to all he brings, Ris’n with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by, Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing glory to the newborn King!
We end each chorus a little more vigorously than the first, and before we know it, we’re filled with a puzzling sense of joy and hope and giving.
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And somewhere scattered among the words of the carols and the pictures on the cards, there is a baby. Even those who barely know Christ know this baby, and they know he must mean something. He must be important for some reason. We half-consciously tolerate this baby’s honorary presence at our holiday gatherings and allow him to at least come to the party and sit on an end table or on the mantle shelf or out on the front lawn in a box of hay.
We also endure the unusual presence of angels and shepherds who all seem to be milling around this glowing baby. We find ourselves accidentally milling around him, too, as we carry cups of cocoa and plates of pastries past his little, crooked manger. We come to accept that perhaps this baby deserves some credit for the festive mood we’re all in.
So, when God looks down in December, what does he think of Christmas? In all its overblown commercialism and excesses of ritualistic food intake and chronic trips to the store, I’m convinced that God still likes Christmas. I assume God is pleased that Christmas tends to turn our hearts to our children and to our needy neighbours and prompts an avalanche of generosity and selfless giving.
But I think there’s another reason God likes Christmas.
You see, Christmas never gets forgotten. We never just “forget” to have Christmas. The songs and the stockings and the glitter and the gifts are so much a part of the rhythm of our entire year that we can hardly go on without them. And since we cannot forget Christmas, we cannot forget Christ—at least not entirely. We anticipate Christmas, we delight in Christmas, we depend on Christmas. And because we depend on Christmas, we depend at least in some small way on Christ. God’s greatest Gift to us cannot be wholly forgotten as long as we have Christmas.
In fact, I think God not only likes Christmas, but that he is its original architect and perhaps its biggest fan. An international birthday party for his Son who makes redemption possible for all his children? Yes, I think for that God pulls out all the stops. Bells? You betcha. Lights? Absolutely. Presents and pageants and wreaths and feasts? Yes. Let’s have it all. Let’s make it unforgettable.
Are there mugs of eggnog clinking together in heaven on Christmas Day? I don’t know. But I don’t think God minds the flocked trees or the ribbons or even the big man in red who—much like Himself—eludes sightings most of the time but always keeps his promises and always seems to know what we want most.
I think, as executive producer of the entire season, God wants to wish us all a very Merry Christmas.
Image credits: Bigstock
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