What do you really need for Christmas? What are the little traditions, moments, melodies that let you know, Christmas time is here? For music nerd me, it is squeezing in listening as much of Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” as I possibly can before heading off to Christmas Eve services, it’s the glorious chord on “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing” in the hymn “O Come All Ye Faithful”… but it’s also the peace that immediately sets in in my heart when I hear the opening notes of “Still, Still, Still” or “Silent Night” –or both of those things together, as you heard at the end of our Lessons and Carols service.
These days, it seems that Christmas needs so much more to “happen” –holiday parties, gift exchanges, endless cookies baked, presents bought and and and… after all, didn’t even the three kings bring Jesus presents? Because clearly what a newborn needs is some gold and myrrh –surely if it had been three wise women, they would have brought more practical gifts? All jokes aside, I do understand that it was the idea of bringing the best of the best for the newborn King, which is why three wise men brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In the short opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” (listening to it is another beloved Advent/Christmas tradition for many), inspired by the story of the three wise men, the three kings meet the poor child Amahl and his mother. The mother, desperate for money to keep the house warm and herself and her child fed, takes some of the gold.
As the kings realize what has happened, Melchior lets her keep the gold as he sings these beautiful words:
The child we seek doesn’t need our gold. On love, on love alone he will build his kingdom. His pierced hand will hold no scepter. His haloed head will wear no crown. His might will not be built on your toil. Swifter than lightning, he will soon walk among us. He will bring us new life…
I encourage you all to mindfully find your “Now it feels like Christmas” moments, and I pray that you find those moments surrounded by those you love, or singing Christmas carols, or in a quiet morning or evening in a warm home or sanctuary. We do not need gold or presents to know it is Christmas in our hearts. May the peace of God be with you during this season and always.