Some of you may be dreaming of other years when Christmas was not hemmed in by pandemic restrictions and all the changes 2020 has brought that has dampened the sparkle of the season for so many. Many of you might have immediately thought of the song “White Christmas” that includes lyrics about what the songwriter was dreaming of. But do you know when that song first came on the scene?
It was first aired on December 25, 1941 during a radio show sponsored by the Kraft company. Bing Crosby was the one singing it just weeks after Pearl Harbor had been bombed and the world was locked in the grip of war that was upending the lives of people all over the world. It was far from what we may traditionally think of when we hear that song.
Some of you know it was written by Irving Berlin whose fame spread with other favorites like “Cheek to Cheek” and “God Bless America.” Few of you may know that he was a Russian-born Jewish immigrant who did not celebrate Christmas. It’s been said that the impetus of the song might have come from a sad point in his life some years before the song was first aired.
Irving Berlin and his wife had a three-week-old son who died on Christmas Day in 1928 and every year thereafter, they visited the baby’s grave on Christmas Day. Who can say if the melancholy lyrics harkened back to an era before Christmas Day broke their hearts in grief?
Somehow, we tend to wrap up this season with memories of some of the most poignant seasons of Christmas that we have celebrated. Some of those are sparkling times of wonderment, but others can be tinged with sorrow and grief that revisits us each time Christmas rolls around.
Perhaps you struggle with dreaming because of so many dreams that never came true or ones that haunt you with shadows of sorrow.
“God knows and sees you in this place of unrealized dreams. He hears your deepest desires and He wants to see your dreams realized. Instead, you find yourself in this wilderness place where nothing looks familiar and nothing seems to be happening.”Mary Geisen in The Advent Narrative
It is at this very moment that the enemy of our souls whispers words meant to destroy our hope and joy, our assurance that God, Emmanuel, is with us still in such a place as we find ourselves.
It is a skill the enemy has been practicing from the beginning of time and whose devices to upend the hope of the Christ Child and Christmas are depicted vividly in Max Lucado’s book, Cosmic Christmas, that describes the war in the heaven by Lucifer that was meant to disrupt God’s plan and design more than 2,000 years ago.
Consider how Max Lucado describes the enemy in one scene in Cosmic Christmas when Gabriel and a host of angels meet Lucifer on their journey to earth:
“My battalions looked upon the devil in confusion. Before the send-off Michael had tried to warn them, but no words prepare you for Lucifer. Without speaking a word, he enchants. Without a touch, he seduces. Angels have been known to follow him without resistance.
But I had the words of the Father in my heart. “He has been a liar from the beginning.”Max Lucado in Cosmic Christmas
No matter how dim the light may seem at any given moment, no matter how many dreams lay crumpled on the floor of our minds and hearts, God is still there, and the enemy has been a liar from the beginning and his efforts remain. He may sense his time is growing short before the second Advent comes.
It is now we must hold on to the truth that fuels what we believe.
“It’s believing that God is working behind the scenes in our hearts, minds, and souls even when we feel caught up in a holding pattern.”Mary Geisen in The Advent Narrative
Seasons of waiting are never easy for us whether we have a lot of experience with them or this is our first one. They require we believe the best about God and that He is good as scripture tells us.
It can be hard to trust and believe something good can come from something that feels (or is) the exact opposite, but we must remember that is not unusual in God’s story throughout the ages. He has disarmed mankind and the forces of evil by using what was to bring an end to us for the greatest of good.
In Cosmic Christmas Max Lucado paints a scene in heaven where Gabriel is being commissioned to come to earth to visit Mary about news of the babe she is to carry. In the scene Lucifer is challenging God yet again and asks where will the final battle be. Max Lucado pens the words of God’s response:
“The Father sighed at the dark angel’s resistance, “On a hill called Calvary.”
A few paragraphs later Max Lucado wrote the words of how the worst scene can bring such great good:
“Jesus, Nail, Cross, Blood, Tomb, Life.”
This year we will miss wonderful concerts and oratorios of Christmas, cookie baking gatherings, shopping trips at the local malls, and gatherings of friends and family in larger numbers, but in this quieter Christmas He is inviting us to intimate time with Him, time to listen and hear, and time to prepare for the second Advent as we wait for Him in the “now and not yet.”