Sunday, December 17, 2017

We Three Kings of Orient Are--Not!

The Word for today:
Psalm 35
Look what they've done to my song, Ma
Look what they've done to my song
Well they tied it up in a plastic bag
And turned it upside down, Ma
Look what they've done to my song.  --Melanie Safka
There's so much that's just right about Christmas! But there could be much more.
Please don't think I'm going to bewail glitzy commercialism and Santa Claus and tinsel and all that schlock. That's what unbelievers make of their Xmas, so what more should we expect?
(By the way, the gift-giving and -getting that we believers participate in with the unbelieving world is probably the one thing we have gotten perfectly right about the day when God, who so loved the world, gave us our greatest gift.)
What bothers me isn't what they've done, but what we've failed to do with the boundless possibilities which Christmas, when rightly told, presents.  First of all, the church (the historic church, over centuries of time) let the essential story -- the heralded fulfillment of Isaiah's Immanuel ("God with us") prophecy (1) -- be confined to a day in December as if it were a birthday party.
We could have taught the entire gospel -- the saving plan of God -- with Christmas as a lustrous launching point. We could have proclaimed the entirety of God's great Good News with this as the first sentence:
"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." (Luke 2:10)
But by and large we've managed to disconnect Christmas from the rest of the year and the rest of the Bible.
I knew things had gone askew when I heard "We Three Kings of Orient Are" and it occurred to me that there weren't three, they weren't kings, and they weren't coming from what we commonly call 'the orient.'
Other than that, it's a fine song!
Over the next couple days, Stand in the Rain is going to re-connect the Christmas story to the rest of the Bible (and the rest of the year). We'll see how Psalm 35 (today's reading) and Revelation 12, when connected to "the Christmas Story" in Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2, tell the Whole Story of Christmas.
We'll work "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" -- a Christmas carol that does tell the Whole Story -- into the mix. So, until then, let nothing you dismay.
(1) see Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23

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