27 December 2016

Un-sentimentalizing Christmas

My favourite Christmas song is Joy to the World: it celebrates how Christ's coming brings in his Kingdom. It speaks of power and might and justice - all very unsentimental things. 

However, there's something about the cute Christmas pageants with kids, meditations about how baby Jesus is our present, songs about the cute little baby (who doesn't cry) in a manger, and so on that tends towards making Christmas seem sentimental. This can then distract from the wonder of how Christ's coming - both his first and second coming - changes everything.

On Christmas Eve, having had too much exposure to Christmas sentimentality, when Matthijs asked for text suggestions for what to read before bed, I asked for Revelation 12. This text talks about the birth and coming of the one who would reign with justice and truth.

It had been awhile since I'd heard Revelation 12, and I only remembered it vaguely. It started out well: "a woman clothed with the sun," pregnant and about to give birth. But it gets both scary and violent fairly quickly, as a dragon appears: "The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born." But, she, nonetheless, "gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days." (Rev 12:1-6). And then war broke out, the dragon pursued the woman, the woman escaped when "the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus." (Rev 12:16-17).

My reaction after reading the text was, well, that was definitely un-sentimental. And a bit more overwhelming for Christmas than I'd realized. I think next year, I'll just suggest reading John 1.  

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