Reflection: Dr Rose Bexar on Christmas

by Anna Blanch on December 22, 2009

This Christmas season I’ve asked some of the Guest Contributors to write a little about their own Christmas Traditions, especially in the context of the Theology and the Arts. Today I bring you Dr. Rose Bexar. You can find out more about Dr. Rose on her Contributor profile. You can take a look at some of the other recent contributors and their profiles here.

—————————————————

Christmas, Christmas time is here,
Time for toys and time for cheer!
We’ve been good, but we can’t last;
Hurry, Christmas! Hurry fast! 

I think Christmas is my favorite time of year, followed closely by Easter (and bluebonnet season). Indeed, the song I most frequently whistle aimlessly is “Deck the Halls.” More and more often now it’s just me, my parents, and our dog–especially this year, since my dad will be on patrol Christmas Day–and we’ll downplay some traditions if one or more of us is, as usual, under the weather. And our jobs being what they are, the pile of gifts under the tree and in our stockings can be fairly meager. But we still trim the tree and have our favorite parts of the Christmas meal and play our favorite Christmas albums, from ’50s favorites to Bing Crosby to Michael Martin Murphy to the Messiah and many things in between, and we’ll watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Muppet Christmas Carol and play games or work puzzles and just enjoy being together as a family and having enough, which is the greatest of blessings. And we usually try to make at least one of the Christmas Eve candlelight services; in my hometown, the churches try to stagger their times on Christmas Eve so that people can attend more than one service if they choose. Even when the service itself feels a bit perfunctory, it’s a good chance to catch up with friends. On a more personal level, I enjoy reading, and sometimes writing, Christmas fanfics as well as discovering new-to-me classics like G. K. Chesterton’s Christmas poetry and rediscovering old favorites like Christina Rossetti’s “A Christmas Carol” (with or without the music by Gustav Holst) or Dorothy L. Sayers’ He That Should Come. That’s not to mention reminiscing about Christmas musicals of years past, especially my favorite ones from elementary school….

As much as I love the lights and the glitter and the music and the food, though, I always remember a song from a cantata our church once did–oh, at least twenty years ago:

Christmas isn’t Christmas till it happens in your heart.
Somewhere deep inside you is where Christmas has to start.
So give your heart to Jesus; you’ll discover when you do
That it’s Christmas, really Christmas, for you.

As Linus helps Charlie Brown to see, it doesn’t matter how good or bad I feel or how traditional or untraditional the day is. That isn’t the point. Of course the Feast of the Nativity is worth celebrating, but we can’t lose sight of what we’re celebrating: the fact that, as J. R. R. Tolkien put it, “Legend and History have met and fused.” The One Himself has indeed entered into Arda, and though from our temporal perspective the Marring is not yet wholly healed, absolutely everything has changed. Yet He chose not to come as “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Apart from the virginity of His mother, He came into this world just like the rest of us, as an infant, and royal human lineage notwithstanding, He was born in the humblest of conditions. The offense of the Gospel begins there, a Child in a manger whose birth announcement by the angels came to shepherds–both facts were edited out of the ninth-century epic Der Heliand because the Saxon nobles for whom it was intended could not have accepted the implied shattering of social conventions. And then to think that He came in this way, knowing how it would end, knowing what He faced along the way, knowing what would happen afterward… and He did it all for me… what remains for me but to weep and wonder and worship?

Then bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own Him!
The King of Kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him!

Previous post:

Next post: