I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there seems to be something big going on around here. People are acting strange. Pleasant, no unusually pleasant, but strange just the same. As I walk the streets I hear bells, all kinds of bells, large and small. Silver bells and sleigh bells. Gold, silver and brass bells, ringing, ringing, beautiful melodies up and down. Kettles are being stuffed with money as the bells ring in a constant rhythm and people hurry and scurry about in the hustle and bustle of the season.
I see mistletoe and wreaths and boughs of holly. People are opening doors for strangers and being polite and saying thank you and God bless. In addition to gold and silver I see red and green decorations all around. Trees and houses and yards strung with multi-colored lights. Ornaments are hung on trees and along fireplace mantels and stair railings. Choirs are singing songs of joy and happiness and peace and good will. The stores are decked out and stuffed full and people are buying gifts, multitudes of gifts, and wrapping them up in pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue. They’re giving these gifts to loved ones and strangers and expecting nothing in return.
And smiles are in abundance. The children aren’t crying or pouting and they are watching out so that they aren’t bad, but good and well-behaved. And when the children lie in their beds, they do so with visions of sugarplums in their heads. Sugarplums? Mommies and daddies are on their best behavior, and mommies are seen kissing total strangers dressed in red, a response no doubt to the overwhelming joy being felt this time of year. And the kids all talk of reindeer and snowmen and elves and sleighs and a fat old man in a red suit, and presents. More and more presents. The food being prepared and the smells coming from the houses are rich and sweet and inviting. People are hosting parties and the celebration goes on for weeks.
Along with all the singing and music are plays and cantatas and movies and concerts and cd’s and albums and songs about this child and the shepherds and the angels and the wise men and a mother and a father and a baby and sheep and donkeys and drummer boys and a star dancing in the night. And more songs about merry gentlemen and the good king Wenceslas and a little town called Bethlehem and herald angels singing and a midnight that was clear and holy. And chestnuts roasting on an open fire and snow, white snow and much mistletoeing and hearts glowing. So many songs and so much joyful singing.
And then after all the presents and eggnog and parties and parades and It’s a Wonderful Life, and everyone has fallen off to sleep; the silent night gives way to a baby in a manger. And it’s this baby in a manger who seems to be the focus of the celebration. Who is this newborn king who inspired all the songs and celebration? Who is the one who would bring such joy to the world? Maybe the baby’s name explains it, Jesus, meaning, “God saves”. Or as the angel explained to Joseph as recorded in Matthew, “…and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Yes indeed, something big, really big is going on. Do you sense it?