[Originally posted on Lutheran Logomaniac]
I often wonder why I get so, uh, curmudgeonly during Christmas time. It is one of the two highest feast days of the Christian Church. The music and Scripture readings for the season are sublime. In every measurable way, it is a time of great joy and happiness. Family gather together. There is festiveness in the air. All in all, it is a good time.
But then I remember.
Nadia. Emmanuel. Mom. The many people whom I have buried over the years who are no longer with their families. The families who now are at a loss of what to do because of this emptiness.
To quote the hymn, â€œIn the midst of earthly life, death has us surrounded.â€ Or to quote St. Paul, â€œthe wages of sin is death.â€ Death has a way of messing up and just bringing down everything around us. Some years or season are greater reminders than this of others, but the sad reality is always there, always present, always trying so very hard to draw us into the pit of self-pity and despair.
That is why I get curmudgeonly.
But that is also why I donâ€™t stay curmudgeonly.
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, to defeat death by taking it into Himself, and to wipe away the tears of grief which wet our faces year after year.
One hymn, perhaps more than any other for me, encapsulates this reality. I hope it brings you joy this season.
Oh, rejoice, ye Christians, loudly,
For your joy hath now begun;
Wondrous things our God hath done.
Tell abroad His goodness proudly,
Who our race hath honored thus
That He deigns to dwell with us.
Joy, O joy, beyond all gladness,
Christ hath done away with sadness!
Hence, all sorrow and repining,
For the Son of Grace is shining!
See, my soul, thy Savior chooses
Weakness here and poverty,
In such love He comes to thee
Nor the hardest couch refuses;
All He suffers for thy good,
To redeem thee by His blood.
Lord, how shall I thank Thee rightly?
I acknowledge that from Thee
Every blessing flows to me..
Let me not forget it lightly
But to Thee through all things cleave
So shall heart and mind receive:
Jesus, guard and guide Thy members,
Fill Thy brethren with Thy grace,
Hear their prayers in every place.
Quicken now lifeâ€™s faintest embers,
Grant all Christians, far and near,
Holy peace, a glad new Year!
Godâ€™s richest peace to you this season. Merry Christmas in Jesusâ€™ Name.
Pastor Todd Peperkorn