December 2020

{reflections on the Christmas story, to the tune of The Holly and The Ivy}

The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown
Of all trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown

{The Crown}

Was it easy, hiding away in a manger? Were there really sound sleeps amid the pang and blood of birth? How does the crown, the Creator of the universe, wrestle himself into a tiny, breakable, fragile, flawed, aching body? Do we pretend not to see the darkness around the illuminated scene vowing to fight against the singular, world-saving mission of this baby? Have we left out the dark characters who make us uneasy as we observe and remember this special day? In the Nativity, did cries of new birth drown out wicked peals of protest, their incantations fleeing the incarnation?

The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flow’r
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our dear Saviour

{The Savior}

Do we see the treasured scene from the wrong side of the stage? Do we look away every year from the most exciting and fearful part of the show? Has the spotlight on the spectacle shone light too narrow, the many cheerful songs avoiding the true drama of an invasion from the King of Heaven?

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good

{The Battle}

Mary did not know the pain, the strain, the claim the reproductive process would have on her heart and body. How irrevocable every moment since conception would be. But did evil in the world merely sit and watch quietly as The Lord Almighty, their immortal enemy, arrived to wage war against it? Does evil in the world sit quietly now?

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn

{The Nativity}

The least of us, the small baby, now living symbol to the entire earth that redemption and salvation arrived across enemy lines. Immanuel left the grandeur of heaven for this whole, cold world, prepared to give the ultimate sacrifice to save the broken people he lovingly created.

Consider the politics of the universe at this moment, the Deceiver and his legions of demons loose to lie, dominate, destroy humanity. His terrible territory breached that starry night, I doubt it was anything but silent. Yet the host of angels gloried in the Savior’s arrival. Were they quiet as to not awaken the newborn, or were they singing to cover the raging cries of the demons who realized the beginning of the end of their reign? Maybe their cries mixed with the boom of swords stomping the ground as they both anticipated and feared the war they knew ended with their demise because of this blessedly blissful baby?

The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all

{The Victor}

Are we afraid to set the stage differently this time, to acknowledge the fight and open our eyes to see behind the curtain? Can we allow ourselves to imagine the havoc backstage as the actors riot behind the manger? Can we admit that, like this baby, we are behind enemy lines?

Perhaps this year’s spectacle will be different. Perhaps this year, the Nativity will be an epic story with unfinished business, the Deceiver revealed to protest and writhe in anguish from the front row, here where Act II began. The script unexpected. How does the deceived deceive itself into thinking the invincible and indivisible was defeated and divided? The baby who entered the world is someone worth worshiping who would not fail, for the wooden manger would soon become a wooden cross, and Act III will soon begin…

O, the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing in the choir