The malls are alive with the sound of muzak: Christmas carols, as you well know, and with today being the last shopping day before Christmas, it’s about to change rhythm. You may well have wearied of Silent Night, Mary’s Boy Child, O Little Town of Bethlehem et al. Me? I never do. I love Christmas, both what it is and what it was. (As testament to this, I was assigned this Christmas editorial in recognition.) And while we don’t do carolling, with muffs and gloves, scarves and coats, through quaint village streets and beneath the spires of stone churches in town squares, I enjoy the annual Carols by Candlelight, be they in the community green of Sydney Adventist Hospital, or best of all, Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl.
And although the modern foot-tapping carols aren’t always about the Babe of Bethlehem, the traditional ones faithfully narrate the story of His birth and the events surrounding it. Over the years, with all that mall elevator music, Road to Bethlehem, school plays and church Christmas programs, you’ve possibly become a little jaded with the “whole Christmas thing”, perhaps even doubting its worth, if not its cost.
But think of it this way: Christmas is, in all probability, the only consistent Christian message that the mass population will ever be open to. For example, and contrary to the opinion of many, even our Hindu and Muslim neighbours enjoy Christmas with its decked halls, suburban streets filled with families enjoying the spectacle of over-the-top lit-up homes, nativity displays and fabulous fare. And supplementing all that, inconspicuously and sublimely in the background are the carols. And they listen. And they wonder.
A young girl, the daughter of a privileged Muslim family, travelled the world with her father, a high diplomat representing a southern Asian country where Christianity was suppressed. As such, from an early age, she attended the best schools available, which in most capital cities are faith-based and Christian. Each year as December approached, and the Christmas decorations came out, the girls rehearsed carols. She listened to the incredible story of the Baby born in Bethlehem, and wondered. In one school where she was a boarder, the girls would carol in the traditional way, going through the streets singing songs of the Emmanuel, God with us.
But who was this God, a baby at that, who her school friends so loved to sing about? she wondered. How could a baby ever be God? This was such a strange story, so different to anything she’d ever heard, her interest grew into fascination. She had to find out more. And as the years unfolded, and she grew into a teenager, she began to search for real answers, always intrigued by that Baby of the carols. Eventually, as a young adult, she felt compelled to become a Christian—a decision that placed her life in peril—then married one, after which her family shunned her.
"Christmas is, in all probability, the only consistent Christian message that the mass population will ever be open to."
And it all began with a Christmas carol, a seed planted in the mind of a child completely lacking in biblical understanding and knowledge of the gospel. Her journey to a full faith wasn’t a simple one, but today as you worship she does likewise.
So be encouraged by Christmas, as its simple yet so profound message echoes around your town. And if you are weary in your well-doing, dead-beat from your week of late nights at Road to Bethlehem, from practising with the orchestra at last week’s Carols by Candlelight, from preparing today’s Christmas program or food hampers for the friendless, know what the result just might be.