The language of Christmas.
Regardless of spiritual preferences the Christmas season is typically a high note in our national ethos. Most Americans can lay aside troubling life urgencies to share in the good cheer of the holidays, albeit temporary and very often meager. Layers of upbeat rhetoric lift the mood of the nation. The political messes, economic troubles, cultural clashes, tensions, and personal woes are seconded to an attitude shift, especially after the snarls, fists, and crude metrics of Black Friday. It's time for merry, happy, jolly, ho-ho-ho, angels we have heard on high, a little mistletoe, and some positive vibes. You know, it is the most wonderful time of the year!
Of course the words of the season are emotional triggers, our weapons against the life realities that drag so many of us down. In some ways they're like the decorations we use to ignite a good feel for the season. When it's all over we'll pack the fun stuff up in a tangled mess till next year. Then, again, we'll haul out the merry seasonal Thesaurus for another dose of Santa, Rudolph, my two front teeth, momma kissing Santa Claus, and Frosty. Just to be on the safe side we'll add some new correct terms. Merry Christmas, though itself a little generic and whimsical, just doesn't work anymore.
Jaded? Perhaps a little. In my life time Christmas has become a highly charged emotional experience. Merry, happy, fun, jolly, festive, bright, colorful, bows, tinsel, lights, wrappings, and the many other verbal enhancements of the season are basically, well, let me say this with as little sarcasm as I can muster---circumstantial. In normal human interactions they are responses to the realities of life. At Christmas they are more than that. Our rhetoric forms stilts that lift us above the mean streets. In most instances they are temporary. Merry doesn't work as well when the bills have to be paid or the third job has to be manned or the children have to be clothed for the winter cold. No, our emotional holiday stuff, especially in a secular mindset, is relatively short-lived. That's not to say we're all hypocrites through the Christmas and New Year seasons. Most of our talk is sincere and genuine, well wishes offered in the spirit of the season. But, against the hard stuff shoved in the closet it is perhaps momentary. Real life is an attitude adjuster that works overtime.
The Biblical language of Christmas isn't emotional or temporary. Call me a throwback but the profound rhetoric of the season is spiritually derived, the realities of Christian virtue. Interestingly, this language depicts non-circumstantial truth that lives in people all the time, beyond the exigencies of the season. Appropriately, this language is discovered in the pages of the Bible. The real words of the season were inspired by God the Spirit when he breathed the words of Scripture to men like Luke. Read this selection carefully---
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that
will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is
Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling
cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the
heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace
among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into
heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this
thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with
haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it,
they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who
heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these
things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising
God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Luke 2:10-20, ESV
There they are, the real words of Christmas. Fear not. Good news. Great joy. All the people. Savior. Glory to God. Peace on earth. They made known. Treasured. They are the blessings of grace God gave us in the season of Christ's birth when God became human. These words are not circumstantial or emotional. They are the permanent descriptives of life centered on the one God sent. Joy. Glory. Peace. Grace. Truth. Virtues that we don't have to tangle and pack away till next year. They are abiding, evident even in the harshest of times. They are the eternal language of Christmas, what we can experience even in the worst of circumstances.
Before the season actually arrives, we must untangle the mess in the attic. And, also, the mess in our lives. That begins when focus on the real language of the season, those spiritual virtues that should govern our lives day to day, all the time. They are the real language of Christmas. And, it would be good for us to learn this dialect while the season is fresh and we are expectant.
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