December 19, 2016

Of Oboes and Bagpipes

He is born, the holy Child;
Play the oboe and bagpipes merrily!

So says the traditional French Christmas Carol, and so we will sing (with gusto) this Christmas morning – although accompanied by a piano, rather than an oboe or bagpipes! I don’t think we have any oboe players, actually. Or bagpipes, either. But you get the idea, I think! The birth of Christ, the long awaited Messiah, is worth a little merry-making! Indeed, it’s worth a good deal of merry-making! For here is the Son of God, come into our world as the bearer of God’s light, joy, freedom, and peace (Isaiah 9:1-7). And that’s worth singing about, dancing a jig over, and holding feasts of celebration. It's worthy of oboes, bagpipes, pianos, and whatever other ways we can make merry! Christmas is the announcement of the happiest event that ever yet was – and is worthy of being celebrated accordingly!

How will you celebrate?

Well, one way to celebrate is to join with others who are doing the same! And so I hope you'll find your way to the house of God this coming Sunday morning – there where the people are gathered to rejoice: aloud in their singing, interpersonally as they visit together, and in the depths of the soul as they think (in sermon time) about the “good news of great joy” in the birth of the Savior. They'll be glad you came. And my hope is that you will leave the gathered celebration even merrier than you already were when you went in!  If you're local, here's our Sunday info.  We'd love to make merry with you!

Another way to celebrate is through the exchange of gifts, which many of you will do in the next few days. If we can remember that the reason for gift-giving is not merely because of American convention, or out of sheer familial obligation, but as a way of showing our joy in the birth of the Savior … then even gift-giving itself can be a show of our delight in Christ! In warning us not to let our piety about ‘the true meaning of Christmas’ turn us into scrooges, Douglas Wilson has memorably written: “If you’re godliness won’t imprint on fudge, then it is not true godliness.” Amen. For again, Christmas is a time of celebration – of oboes, bagpipes, and all manner of chocolate, too! After all, the Savior has been born!

And then we should remind ourselves that Christmas isn’t the only day for oboes and bagpipes! If you have, like the shepherds of old, found your way to the place where Jesus is … then, also like the shepherds of old, you will have reason to go on your way (Luke 2:20), still rejoicing even when the birthday is spent and you go back to your daily routine. Because Christ doesn’t stay behind in the manger, and in the latter weeks of December. But, for those who know Him by faith, His promise is: “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20, emphasis added). And that means that every day is a good day for breaking out the bagpipes, and singing glad songs, and doing good to others for Jesus’ sake! So play your oboes, my friends – today, and all the year round. May you make merry this Christmas! And may Christ make you merry every day hence.

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