By Andy Callow (Principal)
I am not a recreational shopper.
My approach is more ‘hunt and gather’ ( i.e. get what you need and quickly get on your way to more important things). Crowded carparks and congested shopping aisles are places to avoid at all costs. The combination of noise, movement and over-stimulating visual display soon wears thin, and I start searching for the nearest exit. Overlay that with one other major irritant found in shopping centres – the repetitive, tinny ‘musak’- and I’m certainly not feeling very jolly.
Sorry, but I don’t need to hear any more about Frosty the Snowman, and in an Aussie summer I don’t really relate to dashing through snow laughing all the way. Frankly, having to listen again to Good King Wenceslas is not for me, and there is no way I’m going to deck the school hall with boughs of a noxious weed.
Am I a Christmas Grinch? Perhaps … but the association of tinsel with the trivial troubles me.
I understand why the blander Christmas songs get airplay and that there is some truth to the line that familiarity breeds contempt, however, rampant commercialism cannot suppress the wonderful tidings of great joy that herald the real reason for the season.
I love the Christmas songs where the music soars to match profound lyrics - words that timelessly capture the story of Good News. I have wept during a performance of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and felt my soul stir when belting out the chorus of ‘Angels We Have Heard on High’. The Middle-Eastern melody of ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ fits hauntingly the astonishing truth that God became one of us(!)
The wordsmith who penned ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ gifted us with a wonderful summary of what Christians celebrate:
Hail! the heaven-born Prince of peace! Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings, Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by, Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the new-born King!"
This Christmas season may we know more of the astounding truth, and the joy that comes from God and sinners reconciled. Let us raise our voices as one to sing out the deeper and glorious wonder that moves faintly beneath all the gaudy glitter. That a baby - born in a humble stable - could be the hope that saves humanity. A hope that whispers even in our darkest moments. A hope that has sustained, and continues to sustain, a movement that puts one’s neighbour before oneself, that seeks to love instead of hate, and that embraces the wounded and hurting with grace and understanding.
If the words are along these lines, then please, let the music play on!