Like most families, I suppose, our family is utterly, hopelessly divided on some of the vital issues of life. At the top of that list would be this existential question: At what point during the year does it become appropriate to sing Christmas carols?
My dear wife is adamant that any Christmas carol sung before Thanksgiving is officially over is almost a stoning offense. My son is utterly ambivalent either way. One of my daughters, though, is likely to be decorating and singing carols while others are out trick-or-treating. None of my family, though, including me, "Mr. Christmas," has ever really considered singing Christmas carols in May.
Once a month my wife and children and I drive a few miles from our home to an adult special-needs care facility and hold a service with them. The residents in this home are fully grown but have the mentality of children. They are at once both challenging and utterly precious, and the people who tend to them are doing a work near and dear to the heart of God himself.
On a lovely day in May, we once again made our way to that home. I strapped on my guitar, made sure everything was in tune, and we began to sing some of the great old hymns of the faith: "Amazing Grace," "The Old Rugged Cross," "Brethren We Have Met To Worship."
I am an average musician and singer at best; yet these precious folks act as though we are the greatest things that ever walked the face of the planet.
After singing those hymns, I was preparing a fourth, and one of the residents spoke up. "We haven't sung any Christmas carols for five months now," she said, with a bit of disgust in her voice. We all laughed uproariously.
And then we sang Christmas carols.
Somehow, it did not seem the least bit odd to be singing "Silent Night" on a hot May evening when the sun was still high in the sky. In fact, it almost seemed that I could feel a chill in the air, and if I may put it this way, I felt very "Christmasy" at that moment.
I don't think God was the least bit put out. In fact, I suspect that he himself enjoyed it more than anyone. Why should the celebration of the greatest arrival in time or eternity be sung about just once a year? Jesus Christ, the Son of God and God the Son, lowered himself to us, was born of a virgin, placed in a manger and became dependent on an impoverished human mother for his very life. He whom angels adored left the realms of glory. We could not go to where he was, so instead he came to where we were.
Here is how Luke put it (Luke 2:1-14): And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David); to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.
Yes, I know what time of year it is. But merry Christmas anyway!
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.