For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
- Isaiah 9:6-7
“If we neglect our duty, men will be not only contented but transported by the mixed novelty and familiarity of snowdrops this January, sunrises this morning, plum pudding this Christmas. … Only by our incessant efforts is the demand for infinite, or unrhythmical, change kept up.”
- C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
WARNING: The quote is written by “Screwtape,” a senior demon, writing to his nephew, Wormwood. He is trying to convey that Satan (to Screwtape, our Father below) would love for us to be lost in the unrhythmical change of life and forget the novelty of snowflakes (or snowdrops), sunrises, and especially any Christmas tradition. If we think about Christmas traditions, we might think about Christ; we might think about Christ’s victory over sin; we might slip from Satan’s grasp.
When I read the quote from The Screwtape Letters, I thought of this as a good Christmas themed subject to write about, but specifically, it is a great topic for this year. Has this year been such an incessant barrage of Satan’s efforts to take away our Joy and Hope? For those in Christ, that is not spiritually possible, but this year might chip away at our emotional Joy and Hope.
I can see the concern regarding snowflakes. Even in the North of the USA, where people should be used to driving in snow, the counties have good snow removal equipment (most using salt), and the snow is often dry snow – thus little problems with roads until it gets packed down… Even with all that, you will see the grocery store’s stocking people park bread and milk in the aisles for the frantic, crazed lunatics to buy bread and milk. I heard that batteries also go quickly, but I have never seen the stocking people deliver batteries by the pallet to the aisle. And for those people who rush to the car dealerships to get an SUV as soon as there are two flakes falling, an SUV might go easier, but it is like everything else when it comes to stopping. It will take a while, and on a hill, that might be at the bottom of the hill. So, don’t speed and start using the gears and brakes well ahead of a traffic light or stop sign.
Some people do not like the sunrise. I love the sunrise now. It reminds me, each morning in my retirement, that if I wanted to do so, I could roll over and go back to sleep. The only problem with that thought is that when I get that thought, I am so overjoyed that I could not go back to sleep on a dare.
So, to follow the quote from Lewis, that just leaves plum pudding and I doubt if I have ever had any. Then again, I probably have at one Christmas gathering or another. We had cooks in the family who thought the best way to educate was to eat the foods that you read about in books and poems. Their experiments did not always turn out so good.
But the day this C. S. Lewis quote popped up on my screen, I had just watched Dr. David Jeremiah preach on Matthew 2 and the visit by the wise men. He talked of having a Christmas program years before, I think a pageant, and there was a cross on the stage that was prominent. He got letters of complaint. The general comment was that “This was Christmas!! The baby Jesus!! Why are you so hung up on the blood of Christ?! Why not show how Jesus set a good example!!!” Dr. Jeremiah’s reply was a parable about a man who was sinking in quicksand. A fellow comes along and calls out to the man who is about to sink below the surface, “You should do as I do and walk like this.” The man who is in danger cannot walk like the other man. He is not on solid ground. Only when the man on solid ground pulls the other man from the quicksand can he then use the other man as a good example. In other words, the man in danger must be ‘saved’ before a good example is worthwhile.
If we do not have the Cross in Christmas, we are not celebrating anything of importance. Without the cross, there is no Christ. Without Christ, there is no Christmas. All we have left is the birth of a man who had a revolutionary way of looking at morality. And like many other philosophers, He might be forgotten by now. But Jesus also claimed to be the Son of God, and He proved it by rising from the dead. Jesus was no ordinary philosopher. He is the great I AM, with no beginning and no end. Now that is reason for celebration. That is what we need to remember.
And focusing on our Lord and Savior has kept me safe and secure this year. Having Christ in your heart can do the same for you.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.