If you’ve ever had carolers show up at your front door at Christmas, there’s a good chance they were bundled with sweaters and had faces aglow with the joy of the season. Perhaps they sang two or three Christmas songs, and I’ll bet I can guess their final selection. Carolers almost always end their impromptu concerts with the departing strains of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” It’s been like that for centuries. “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” dates from the 1700s and hails from somewhere in the west of England. It seems to have been written specifically for carolers because after the singers wish us a Merry Christmas in verse 1, they ask for some “figgy pudding” in verse two; and verse three says: “We won’t go until we’ve got some.”
Donna and I have enjoyed carolers at our front door from time to time, though I confess we’ve never served them any “figgy pudding.” But even here in Southern California where we live, some of the evenings are cool enough for sweaters. They’re a symbol of the coziness of the season and the warmth the Savior brings to our lives.
When you think about it, the word “wishes” isn’t exactly a Christian word. It’s like “luck.” As Christians, we don’t believe in wishes, luck, fate, or chance. We believe in blessings and providence and the goodness of God. But during the Christmas season, warm holiday wishes are innocent expressions and greetings. They remind me of the second chapter of the book of Ruth when Boaz went out to visit his reapers in the field. “The Lord be with you!” he called to them. And they answered, “The Lord bless you!” That’s the kind of joyful, warm greetings we all need from time to time, and especially at Christmas.
Christmas is a time of warmth. When we envision the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, we tend to visualize those ragged fellows sitting around a blazing fire. There’s nothing in the Bible about the temperature that evening, nor is there any mention of fires or blankets. But somehow in our imaginations, we envision a chilly evening, suddenly interrupted by the song of a thousand angels. As soon as the angels departed, the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem and found the Christ child. He was tightly wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying warmly and lovingly in the manger.
Whether in swaddling clothes, blankets, or sweaters, everyone needs warmth against the coldness of this world. Have you ever had to undergo surgery? The surgical suite was probably chilly, but nothing feels better than the warm blanket tucked around you by an aide or orderly. Perhaps you’ve had to jump into your car on a freezing night. How comforting when the heater begins blowing hot air against your legs. If you’re sitting in the stands of a football game on a frozen day or if you’re a hunter in a deer stand, you know how a hot cup of coffee can warm your insides. The world needs warmth, and Christmas is perfectly designed to remind us of the spiritual warmth Jesus brings to our hearts, and which He makes available to all the world.
Christmas provides one of our best opportunities to share the warmth of God’s love with others. As Jesus came to be the Light of the World, we should carry that light into the hearts and lives of those in our family, workplace, church, and community. The warmth of Christmas comes from the inside. Through the gifts we bestow, the cards we send, the letters we write, the invitations we extend, the carols we sing, and the greetings we give, may God use us to keep Christ the focus of Christmas. My prayer is that as you celebrate our Savior’s birth this year, the warmth, wishes, and witness of the season will well up within you to overflowing.
David Jeremiah is the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California, and the founder and host of Turning Point for God. For more information about David Jeremiah and Turning Point visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.
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