Blast from the Past
Frustrated with the tunes, I reached for the tuner on the radio and selected another station. Normally, we listened to classical radio but during the holiday season, I wanted more than Bach and Beethoven.
The Christian Radio station wasn’t playing anything unique to the season. It was the same songs I’d heard in July: not one note about the Christ child’s birth. Another station blended the sacred songs I yearned to hear with the jingles I’d listened to as a youngster and through my growing up years. It stirred me to wonder why I was discontent with the Christian station.
The memories and familiar tunes, sacred and secular, were part of what made the season alive for me. It brought back the excitement Christmas elicits for a young child. The mystery of gift giving: the joy of making or choosing a special gift; the anticipation of the response; the happiness of the receiver, all part of what makes the season remarkable. We delight in giving. All the senses are engaged as we meander through stores or plot to create. The songs on the radio delight our ears; the scent of cinnamon in the air and holiday baking reminds us of good things to come; the taste of hot cocoa after a cold day of running errands warms our inner being.
Andy Williams, Michael Buble, Jim Brickman, and a host of other unknown artists sing songs that cause me to belt out the familiar cultural songs. You have heard all about songs and the culture this year, I’m sure. Songs that are offensive. We’ve been singing about Rudolph and his bullying companions for years. Yet, he seems to have turned the other cheek to lead Santa and his sleigh. It sounds to me that he took the high ground and his companions had to take a back seat.
Then, there is Baby, It’s Cold Outside: the bell ringer for cultural shock this year. Maybe you have read articles about the cultural nuances of the time in which the song was originally penned to understand it isn’t about coercion as much as a statement of how people viewed such proposals.
Which leads me to wonder how much of the Bible we really understand if we don’t have the cultural context. So many parables are written in terms farmers, shepherds, carpenters of the day would understand. There are no references to electronic games, media, Star Wars (though we could probably generate some galactical battles if we stretched it a bit). So, how do we relate the Word to our daily living?
We study the context. We have to dig deeply to mine for the treasures buried in the cultural context. When we do, lights come on in our hearts and minds. Perhaps during this season, when we are thinking about what we can give and how joyous the recipient will be, we might turn the situation around.
We might think of how delighted God was to send his very own son to live as a man, overcome the temptations of daily living in a victorious manner, and offer himself as the one way to relate to the Father, without being mindful of hundreds of man-made rules to avoid disobeying any of the ten commandments.
And, the Son simplified it so we just needed to follow two simple things: Love God. Love your neighbor.
Consider the delight that God would have when folks like you and me listened to the Son and desired to have relationship by believing and following. It’s so simple. Regardless of the cultural context in which we view this, it is simple. God gave the best gift. The best gift showed us how to bless and be blessed.
That’s the Reason for the Season. Regardless of how much baggage we attach to Christmas with our silly cultural songs and traditions, the reason is simple. It is profound. It is amazing.
So, while you are busy creating memories for your littles, point them always to the Reason for the Season and keep it simple so their understanding is not encumbered with the culture that wants it to be just happy holiday.
From my family to the heart of yours, Merry Christmas! Joy to the World, the Lord has come!