This will be my 66th. Christmas, that is. If anyone needs proof of the sad and deplorable fact that “familiarity breeds apathy” . . . look no further than me this time of year. I’m ashamed that it’s this way. Like everything else in our broken and messed up world, this is certainly not the way things are supposed to be. The great irony in regards to my apathy is that it’s the result of the very brokenness Christ has come into the world to undo.
Don’t get me wrong. . . I don’t disregard Christmas. Rather, it’s just so easy for it to show up without adequate preparation and appreciation on my part. Perhaps your own familiarity with Christmas combined with the cultural re-definition of the season leaves you apathetic and unprepared as well.
Adding to the irony is the fact that the One who came to seek and to save has done so in my life. Not only that, but that same One has called me (as He does all of us in every vocation) to a vocation of service to His bride and His Kingdom. I really should know better, shouldn’t I?
One of the habits I’ve developed to push back on this annual reality is to work on a daily basis to “ponder anew what the Almighty can do” . . . and has done, especially through the Incarnation. As part of that effort, each year I seek out some “helps” that I can focus on as reminders of just how wondrous the object of our celebration really is.
This year, I’ve landed on a few things. I want to share three of them in the hope that they might get you thinking and pondering anew.
First, a powerful quote from C.S. Lewis. . .
“Can it really be my duty to buy and receive masses of junk every winter just to the help the shopkeepers?”
Second, a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one who understands the jail cell, on the hope of Advent. . .
“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes – and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”
Third, a little rendition of “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” from an unexpected source. . . Hall and Oates. Yes, I’m a big fan of Philly Soul and Daryl Hall has a voice that’s never quit. This is a beautiful version. I love this. . . particularly these words that always re-center my heart and mind. . .
With all these times of sin and strife
The world has suffered too long;
Beneath the angel’s voice has rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, can’t hear
The love-song that they bring;
So stop this noise, you men of war,
And hear the angels sing.