I love talking to youth workers about kids. What I don’t like hearing are the seemingly endless stream of stories about churched kids. You know, the ones who have seen, heard, and done it all over and over and over again. Churched kids from Christian homes can be the most apathetic when it comes to understanding, engaging, and appreciating the great drama of redemption that is unfolding in them and around them. I know. I was one of those kids. Familiarity didn’t breed contempt. It bred a “ho-hum” attitude.
I might still be one of those kids if it hadn’t been for God’s great gift to me of hurt, brokenness, and pain. My suffering hasn’t been great. But it’s been enough to show me how helpless I am in and of myself. Suffering is like an axe in the hands of God which He uses to chop away at the legs of the idols we worship known as “me,” “myself,” and “I.” The brokenness I’ve experienced has been enough to show me how great and wonderful it is that the Creator of the universe became flesh and blood and – as Eugene Peterson says in The Message – “moved into the neighborhood.” When life beats us down and leaves us looking and feeling like an old sea captain who’s been thrown around over the years. . . well. . . that’s a good thing. . . if we allow it all to force us to drop our arms to our sides and look to God saying, “Okay. . . I’ve got nothing.” God wants us weak. I increasingly believe that this is what prepares us to see and understand and embrace what’s great about Christmas.
Tonight at 10pm, my family will worship with other members of our congregation in celebration of the Incarnation. This will be my 54th Christmas. I will sing and hear songs that are way too familiar. And if I’m not careful, I will entertain the ghost of my Christmas’s past by engaging in a sentimental reflection that is more about family memories than it is about thinking carefully and deeply about what it is that we sing and celebrate. I’m not sure what deep and great songs of the faith we will sing tonight. In year’s past I have been blessed to focus on certain lines in certain carols that have come to have very personal meaning for me. Perhaps we’ll sing some of these. . .
“. . . He will give to all the faithful His own self for heavenly food.”
-“Let All Mortal Flesh”
“. . . come to earth to taste our sadness, He whose glories knew no end.”
-“Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”
“. . . the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.”
-“O Little Town of Bethlehem”
“. . . pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel.”
-“Hark the Herald Angels Sing”
And my favorite. . .
“. . . He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.”
-“Joy To The World”
What will you be singing tonight? Do you have a favorite line?
I trust you will have a blessed Christmas filled with a deep knowledge of what God has done for us in Christ. . . and the resulting wonder and awe.
Don’t be one of those kids.