ALMOST every aspect of Christmas brings joy.
There’s the warm weather and sunshine that summer brings.
There’s the pleasure of gathering with people, friends and family.
There’s all the great food we can enjoy, from Christmas feasts to barbecues and picnics.
There’s the traditional tasty treats, such as shortbread, Christmas puddings and my personal favourite, mince pies.
There’s the decorations and lights and trees with which we adorn our streets and homes.
And of course, there’s the presents, the gifts we exchange as expressions of our love to one another.
There’s a song to go with all of these elements of Christmas.
These songs capture the joy of the season and the only problem is there’s such a short window in which it’s acceptable to play or sing them.
Indeed, one of the biggest dilemmas I face each Christmas isn’t what to get my wife, but what carols we should sing at our church services without having them last for hours.
The problem is there are so many good songs from which to choose.
Each of us will have our own favourites, songs that speak to what we find special about this season.
Some are new songs, capturing the excitement of the holiday season.
Some are older, more traditional hymns or true Christmas ‘carols’.
The word carol means ‘a song of joy or mirth’.
It’s quite a fitting name for the songs we sing that remind us of the birth of Jesus.
Every birth is worth celebrating, but Jesus’ birth is especially special!
For in Jesus, God was entering into the world.
This was the beginning of God’s great plan to rescue his people from evil, to save us from our sins, to put right all that is broken and to restore our relationship with him.
As the angels told the shepherds on that very first Christmas, Jesus coming truly is good news of great joy for all people. It’s no wonder that we can’t help but sing about it!
Some carols do take great artistic licence (I hate to burst anyone’s bubble but I’m pretty sure that Jesus, like every other baby, would have cried no matter what ‘Away in a Manger’ might have us believe!).
But many carols are pretty accurate, if not direct rip-offs of the nativity narratives!
You might find this surprising, but the Bible actually contains a number of ‘carols’!
They’re not songs like Silent Night or While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night, but songs that celebrate the deeper significance of what God was doing in Jesus.
Mary and Elizabeth sing because God was coming to fulfil his promises to put the world right, Zechariah sings in celebration of God’s salvation, the angels sing glory to God and Simeon sings because in Jesus he sees the answer to his, and the world’s, hope for peace.
These are all true Christmas carols, songs of the joy that’s found only in, and through, Jesus.
They’re also great songs for those for whom Christmas isn’t such a joyous time.
Whether it’s due to poor health, financial difficulties, fractured relationships or the painful reminder of those who are no longer with us, Christmas can be a time for mourning and not celebration.
But in the midst of these situations we can find comfort, if not joy, in Jesus and the healing and peace that he brings.
I pray that however you spend Christmas; you have opportunities to pause and reflect on God’s great love for you and the great joy that Jesus brings us!
Christ Church Anglican
Christmas Service Times
Christmas Eve 6pm
Christmas Day 9am