This may cause a riot, but I’ll say it anyway, I have strong convictions that Christmas music is not to be played until after Thanksgiving…ever. I'll concede and make one exception to the rule. If you find yourself driving a school bus full of kids who are having a hard time saying kind words and keeping the peace, I argue that in this one instance, you are permitted to play Christmas music. At UCA are sitting in the heat of summer blasting some old school Bing Crosby on our big yellow school bus. Something magical happens every time we do. As soon as the music starts the kids' eyes light up and suddenly whatever conflict was brewing just dissipates as every one joyfully bursts into 'Jingle Bells'. At first I thought it was a miracle void of any explanation, but when the miracle was recurring, I stopped to reflect on the why.
So many Christmas songs refer to the reality of a weary world eagerly anticipating a shift in the bleak narrative of it’s existence. We’re all longing for better times, easier days, more light in the darkness. It’s true in every season. When we’re 5 and 55 and 95 we’re still longing. Our hearts are aching for redemption. Jingle Bells and Santa Clause don’t hold the answer but they point to a season where waiting leads to tangible goodness. They remind us that we always get to open the presents under the tree if we’re just patient enough. They remind us of family coming together and warmth and moments where things are right and we are saturated in love and showered with gifts. Christmas reminds us that our waiting isn’t in vain.
That’s the hope we’re all trying to cling to. In our marriages, with our kids, at our jobs, in our fundraising, in our dreaming, in our saving, in our hearts…we hope that our waiting and longing will one day be resolved. That one day things will be like Christmas morning, the morning where the weary world and all it’s weary hearts rejoice because in the midst of winter hope bursts forth.
Christmas is programmed into our hearts. Not Santa per se, but this longing fulfilled. The hope that the stars will once again sing their song of old ushering in the Prince of Peace. This time, not in the wilderness over a field but in the dry desert of our hearts.
At UCA we feel the ache everyday. We feel it in our brokenness and in the brokenness we see in kids' eyes. And just like the misery of 2am on Christmas Eve as a child feeling the sun will never rise but will only hide forever; a child feeling the clock is protesting against his dreams holding them hostage in it’s minute hand-- we sit antsy, frustrated, ready to just reach in and move the hands of the clock ourselves. Yet we’re forced to wait. My guess is sometimes we will wait years, generations even.
And yet in the waiting we are not idle. We prepare. We cling to big dreams and fight for small victories. We work to shout that our King is here and His light is breaking through and one day He’s coming back for His kids. He’s coming to make all the sad things untrue, to make all the dark things light, to make all the tears dry up and all the chains fall off. He’s coming.
The craziest thing of all is that He is coming and using vessels like you and me to declare His reign. He’s coming through us. So sing. Sing of hope and victory. Even in your waiting, sing. Even if Christmas feels far away, sing the songs that remind your heart of the true story. It works on the bus. It just might work for you. And maybe just maybe, our united song in the darkness will cause a tremble and light will break in. Peace has already come and already won, let’s sing it’s song.