- Eldon Peterson
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
Do you have a favorite Christmas carol? It is likely that you do and it probably says a lot about why Christmas is important to you.
While not my favorite Christmas song, Andy Williams’, “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” has been running through my head lately. It’s a joyful tune offering lots of reasons why Christmas is a “wonderful time of the year” and yet it misses the real reason why Christmas is the MOST wonderful time of the year. Christmas is wonderful because of the birth of Christ our Savior!
Personally, it is difficult for me to answer to my own question about a favorite Christmas carol. It is so hard to choose because each testifies to an important aspect of the Christmas narrative. For example, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” tells us that what is so wonderful about Christmas is, “For Jesus Christ our Savior, was born on Christmas Day; to save us all from Satan’s power, when we were gone astray.” The hope of Christmas is not seen in presents, nor in a mere babe born in a manger, but in that “Christ our Savior, was born on Christmas Day.”
Other carols help us see the story clearly as well. Like the poignant words of “What Child is this?” that reminds us of what the child will do by saying, “Nails, spear shall pierce Him through, the cross be borne for me, for you. Hail, hail the Word made flesh, The Babe, the Son of Mary.” Christmas is when Christ’s church gathers to “hail the Word made flesh.” We gather to give God thanks for what He has done for our benefit. Paul puts it this way, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8) The wonder of the Christmas carols that we sing is seen in the testimony of the Father’s great love for sinners revealed in the precious gift of grace in the manger.
This is what we sing about in one of my favorite carols, Silent Night. Listen to what it testifies, “Silent night, holy night! Son of God love's pure light. Radiant beams from Thy holy face with dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus Lord, at Thy birth. Jesus Lord, at Thy birth.” When we sing Silent Night, we declare our hope in the “redeeming grace” that the Christ child brings to us in His birth. We testify that this is not just any child that was born in Bethlehem but the one who came with a singular purpose – to bring to us God’s grace through the “cross be borne for me, for you.”
Maybe I’m preaching to the choir, but if we are going to avoid getting sucked into the secular whirlwind that surrounds us at Christmas, it is important for us to be rooted and established in Christmas’ real meaning. I understand how Christmas is a joyous time that brings families together as Andy Williams’ song suggests, “It's the most wonderful time of the year. There'll be much mistltoeing, and hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near.” Christmas is a wonderful celebration that brings families together, and yet…
The ultimate, real joy of Christmas is found not under our trees but in the Father who gave us His Son as the first Christmas present. The babe wrapped in the swaddling clothes may not have the appearance of something worthy of angels singing, but as “Love has come” says, “Love has come – a light in the darkness! Love explodes in the Bethlehem skies. See, all heaven has come to proclaim it; Hear how their song of joy arises: Love! Love! Born unto you, a Savior!” In this John 3:16 is played out, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
This Christmas I hope that you will receive the gift that the Father is offering to you in Christ. You can unwarp it as a family by reading the Christmas story, or by attending a candlelight Christmas Eve service or a Christmas Day service. If you will just take the time to step out of the whirlwind and look at the gift God is giving you, then you can sing “How Great our Joy” with gusto declaring, “There shall the Child lie in a stall, This Child who shall redeem us all. How great our joy! Great our joy!”