God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Christmas has always been my favorite.

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been romanced by twinkling lights, mittens, cards in red envelopes, pine trees, hot cocoa, and carolers singing their sweet refrains with lyrics that have been sung for hundreds of years now, each promising that peace has come, and that there is hope and joy for each of us, ready to be opened like a shiny new package. But this year has been different. With the terrorist attacks across the sea and so close to home, all of the reminders of my favorite season, from popcorn garland to ice skating, seem so temporary and frivolous. When carolers or pop stars on the radio blare, “Peace on earth" and "good will to men,” I am forced to ask, “where?”

With this brokenness, I joined my family at church for a Christmas-themed night of worship. I was crossing my fingers for an impressive version of “Drummer Boy” (check,) and a night full of cheerful, classic music about Santa and Rudolph. Was it ridiculous to hope for secular music at church? Most likely. But I was hoping for an escape. I wanted to pretend that the world was all right, and that our traditions and legends could distract from the heaviness of the realities at hand. Please note that I am not saying that church promotes or endorses escapism. But for that moment, I wanted it terribly.

As you may be shocked to discover, there were no songs about elves, the North Pole, Dasher, or Dancer. (Jaws drop and eyes widen!)

For the hour-long concert, we listened to lovely songs describe Jesus’ birth and its effect on the world. (Are you still sitting down?)

I was miffed.

It was beautiful, though. We prayed for San Bernardino, and they passed out glow sticks for a rocking version of “The First Noel.”

And when they played, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” my insecure heart couldn’t help but scoff.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen Let nothing you dismay

I wanted to cover my ears. How could we rest?! The world is in bad shape! Politics are more ugly than ever and terrorists have damaged our community. There was absolutely enough to be dismayed over.

Remember, Christ, our Saviour Was born on Christmas day

To save us all from Satan's power When we were gone astray

My grammar nerd took over. To have “Let nothing you dismay” precede “Remember, Christ, our Savior, was born on Christmas day,” is to use a cause/ effect clause.

We are not to dismay because our savior was born.

It does not say to not to dismay unless terror strikes or people disagree or if injustice reigns in this world and darkness threatens the light.

Jesus was born because we have gone astray. Because we do not love one another well. Because we are selfish and don’t lend a hand because we are hoping someone else will reach out their hand instead. Because we look away when the wrongs become too much to take.

Jesus came for these terrible things that are devastating this earth. These horrors are no surprise to Him, and He will be victorious over this evil.

That is why we sing:

O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy O tidings of comfort and joy

Because the baby born 10,000 years ago came to be peace and justice for those who would later kill him. He was comfort for the lonely and joy for the lost. And He slept in an animal’s trough of hay, completely uncomfortable, so that our souls might find rest in His sacrifice, and in His promise.