[Take time to read this wonderful sermonette written by an IBCBer — Enrico Lange — this past week. You can experience a “white Christmas” — just read this guest blog with eyes, ears, and a heart of faith.]
“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. Where the tree tops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas; with every Christmas card I write. May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white.”
Or so the song goes. Why has this seemingly trite and perhaps somewhat silly song by Irving Berlin become one of the most widely recorded songs in history? The version sung by Bing Crosby even earned the status of “best-selling single of all times, with estimated sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide” (source Wikipedia).
Are we just so shallow and naive to hope all our Christmases could be white? Only those living in the Northern Hemisphere, in the very northern parts, can experience a white Christmas. Why would we even want to aspire to snow at Christmas? After all, whenever it snows it causes hassles, traffic delays, school closures, accidents tend to happen more often. What is to crave about this?
Well, perhaps there are things that are fun to do in the snow. Skiing or snowboarding for example. Yes sleigh riding is fun. Walking through an outdoor Christmas market, drinking hot cider and seeing the snow fall has its romantic touches I confess.
But why, why is this image of a snowy Christmas so alluring? Perhaps it is the very property of snow and the fact that it is white. For a moment in time, a few hours, perhaps even days after fresh snow has fallen and,provided the temperatures are low enough so the snow does not immediately melt when it hits the ground, a remarkable transformation takes place. The land and with it everything that inhabits it takes on a different look and feel. The air feels different. Everything is drenched in white. A blanket has been placed over the ugliness of the world, the stain of decay covered with a new promise, of a return to what once was beautiful and whole.
Spring will come and with it new life and the meadows shall be full again with green, lush grass and an abundance of vibrant colors that the flowers bestow. The trees will blossom and they will grow their leaves and provide shade for those seeking respite from the warm rays of the sun. Butterflies, bees, birds, insects and a host of animals will once again teem the land. Lovers will find their way to this wonderful sight and its bosom they will lie,conceiving new life.
But it is not only the hope of spring returning that so touches our hearts on a cold, snowy winter’s day. No, it is in fact a hope that reaches much much farther than just to the next season. It is a yearning that reaches all the way to Heaven and to the very depths of our beings.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6)
Deep down in our hearts, perhaps even at the very bottom, we have an awareness of our former connection with our Heavenly Father and although much has come in between Him and us since we fell and were hence evicted from the garden, we cannot rest until we find our rest in Him once more.
It is this longing for real wholeness, for real fulfillment which nothing in this world can give us that we sense most acutely at Christmas time and for many of us Christmas means a lot of pain because it is most often then that we are reminded, sometimes brutally, of how much has gone wrong in our lives and how much the things we thought would give us what we need and want disappoint us or turned out to be shallow, empty boxes, appealing from the outside but completely and utterly empty inside. Perhaps your Christmases are not that and you enjoy the blessings of fellowship with your spouse, children and other family members and friends but somehow inside you still ache for something more but cannot really pinpoint what it is exactly that you are still missing.
But then you see it, just like a picture that was out of focus but now it sharpens and you can make out the contours and the details that before were just dim, unidentifiable shapes to you. Now, you see clearly. You see yourself as a child. You are in someone’s arms and this someone holds you tight to his chest and looks at you with a love you have never known and you can almost discern from his lips that he is saying “I love you”… and then it is as if you can hear him go on saying “I love you with an everlasting love. I have called you by name, you are mine and I will never leave you alone. I promise you that. You are the apple of my eyes, my darling, my most beloved.” Your heart jumps and you are full of joy. Yes, that’s it. You want to be held like that and you want him to say these things to you. You don’t know him yet but at the same time it feels like you have always known him. “How can I be his child,” you might ask?
“Seek me and you will find me, if you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” “ Matthew 19:14
We can be made whole again. We can be restored because the very one who made us came to earth and died for us so we would have a way back. Its the real, the ultimate Christmas gift.
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
“Nun schliesst er wieder auf die Tür zum schönen Paradeis, der Cherub steht nicht mehr dafür, Gott sei Lob, Ehr und Preis” (German Christmas Hymn) – English: “Now he opens the gate to beautiful paradise again, the cherub no longer stands in front, to God be all glory and praise” Jesus has swung the gates wide open and we can enter when we trust Him and invite Him into our hearts and believe Him to be our Savior and Lord.
By accepting Jesus as our Savior, we can be what we were always meant to be and that is what our heart prompts us to when we start feeling sentimental and wish we could go back to being a child, back at our mother’s table, savoring our favorite Christmas treats and being full of joyous expectation and wonder at this most festive of all seasons, because in actuality it goes much further back than our mother’s or grandmother’s table, it reaches all the way back to Eden and our Father’s house, there where it all began.