Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Joy to the World

We were three blocks, max, from Main Street, far too close in December because the mini-mall downtown pipes Christmas musak all over the parking lot and consequently all over the surrounding neighborhoods.  We hear it whether we want to or not.  Fortunately, windows are shut down tight or “White Christmas” would find its way inside, like those pesky Asian beetles that just now are dying, thanks to the cold.
On some early winter nights, I could stand outside in a beautiful first snow and hear far more than I wanted to know about Mama and Santa Claus.
I love Christmas music.  In my life, I must have been part of a thousand gatherings were “Joy to the World” brought the assembled to their feet.  I never tire of it.  “Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming” is as gorgeous as it is haunting, and that last line of the refrain of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” is enough to conjure up all the very best images of all my Christmases past.  My wife and I rarely play anything on the old music center in the living room.  But a week before Christmas, Handel’s Messiah is on most all the time.
I’m no Scrooge, is what I’m saying, but I found the mall’s constant blaring of seasonal music—most of it secular—really annoying.
Christmas itself is so familiar, so intimate, that it seems almost like a sibling from whom we expect so much that we can’t help but be letdown. Christmas is so close to us that a whole lot of us have a love/hate thing with the whole season. Yuletide brings out the best—and worst--in us. Ask any crisis center. Suicides jump in the middle of all that sweet caroling. 

It ain’t perfect, and everybody knows it.  But that having been said and despite our manic shopping nuttiness, the whole season is one immense blessing for all of us—no matter what our faith, no matter whether we have it or not. 
I’m still, always, happy for the season.  I love the golden glow our huge wreath casts nightly over the snow down the alley.  I love the hand-carved nativity scene that appears out of nowhere and sits reverently on our magazine table.  I love the tree decorations, little tokens of where we’ve been throughout our married life.  I love buying gifts for people, lots of them—little things, red licorice for my wife.  I love the story.  I love the love he’s brought—Jesus Christ that is.  At Christmas, every one of us is a child.
I’m not sure I can recapture the grand view of Psalm 50:2, when the poet says, “From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.” There's beauty all around me out these windows, but no vision is perfect. But then, the psalmist had a leg up on me because God almighty--the God almighty--actually lived right there in the temple. He had a street address. Ever since we moved out into the country, there's been no end to gorgeous views; but I don’t have any pictures for what he most certainly meant to describe when he saw God "shining forth” from Zion. I can't top that one. 
The closest I can come to his exaltation is what I see and feel and hear at Christmas because what happens throughout the world—the whole world, not just the Christian world—at Christmas is a blessing for all of us, isn't it?  For a moment, even through the muzak and the glitter, and somewhere inside all the presents ever given, God’s perfect beauty still shines forth in imperfect this-world ways. 

There's always reasons for thanks in the morning, but this time of year especially, or so it seems, there's music in the spheres because what Christmas brings is nothing less than joy to the world. 

Sing it.

1 comment:

Doug Calsbeek said...

Perhaps this will help prolong the season!