Monday, December 12, 2011

Be Merry! (Why?)

I don't know if the occurrence is actually increasing, or if I'm just suddenly aware of it, but advertising seems to be exhorting me to Be merry! more and more this Christmas season. The message isn't the traditional Merry Christmas or even the vacuous Seasons Greetings, but simply Be Merry.


My initial, admittedly contrarian, response is Why?

There is no reason to be merry. Unemployment is high. Investments are down. There's turmoil within the United States between those who would steal the fruits of others worked hard and those who would not share the bounty they've been given. There's economic instability and social unrest in Europe. Groups are killing each other in Africa. The middle East seems to be getting more and more radicalized. Parts of Asia are aggressively attacking the computer resources of the West and oppressing their own while other parts of Asia are melting down from natural disasters. Chaos increases around the planet.

What reason is there for merriness? Gaiety? Cheerfulness?

The exhortation needs to come with a purpose. Without context, all that's left is to look around and see what's happening in the world and despair of any incentive. In fact, it would be pretty irrational in the context of the current circumstances. The simplistic Be Merry has no context for the exhortation and therefore lacks any moral imperative.

The original context needs to be restored. The context for this holiday is Christmas. The context is remembering that God wants to be with us. He originally created the earth as a place to meet with us. We are unique: the only part of creation made in His image. This enables us to have fellowship with Him. But, we rebelled and broke fellowship with Him.

However, in spite of our rejecting Him, He still wanted fellowship with us. So much so He became one of us. And that's what we celebrate this season.

We remember His first arrival as an infant. The message to Mary. The travel to Bethlehem. The full inn and the manger. The angels' announcement to the the shepherds. The star guiding wise men with their gifts. The incarnation. Emmanuel. God with us.

We remember how He walked among us, showing us the heart of God. He took upon Himself the debt we couldn't pay and paid it in full by dying on the cross. We celebrate Jesus. Savior. The perfect Lamb of God.

We remember how three days later He picked His life back up. Death could not keep Him down. He is the first of many who will overcome death by what He has done for us. We celebrate His resurrection. The Living One.

We remember that, as bad as things are on the earth now, they will get worse. But they won't stay that way. He will return a second time to bring justice to this planet. All things will be restored in perfect accordance with God's will. He will prevail. We celebrate His return. The King of kings.

God loves us and want's fellowship with us. He wants to walk with us. He wants everything to be made right and has done everything in His power to provide a way for us to be at peace with Him. We simply need to place our faith in Him and in what He's done for us.

When we look at the world from His perspective, we are able to see the beginning and the end and understand the reason for any chaos we have in our circumstances or in the events around the globe. And we understand it is only temporary.

It is only in the context of His story that it makes sense to be merry.

Merry Christmas!

Related articles:

Thoughts on the Incarnation
Why Celebrate Christmas?