You’ve likely heard John Lennon’s Christmas song – Happy Xmas too many times in the last month:
So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun.
What, indeed, have I done. Several days after Christmas Day, the scene has changed from strings of sparkly lights, cozy smells, and cheerful bells to piles of product packaging, credit bills, spoiled and sugar-frenzied children on a break from school, and gifts I asked for that I realize I don’t want. The voice of John Lennon singing this most righteous of Christmas carols echoes my own scolding conscience of a cold, forgetful Ebenezer Scrooge.
The world is so wrong
This line implies unrest and need among the peoples and classes of the world, of which we’re all guilty by association. Another decade over, and have we solved the urgent local or global tragedies of 2010? Are the sins of the world assuaged? Or have we squandered goodwill, lacquering them over, still wet, with several fresh coats of scandal?
“That we should make merry at a time like this,
in a world like ours, is truly shocking.”
What have we done? That we should make merry at a time like this, in a world like ours, is truly shocking. What can we do? Helpfully, our peace-loving social critic offers us a path:
War is over, if you want it.
Okay, we want it. So we got this? Peace will happen as an act of our will? If I change my bad to good, and we all change our bad to good, peace will emerge, and maybe next Christmas, or next year, or next decade…no, we don’t got this.
But he is right—though not in the way that he intends or imagines. Because whether we want it or not, the war between heaven and earth is over. Like the prophet Isaiah pronounced,
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
And as the angels announced to the shepherds: “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men on whom his favor rests!” Wasteful as we are, year after year, of the peace that passes understanding, this thing that has happened in Bethlehem echoes, resounds, and multiplies. Death has turned backward and the head of our old enemy is crushed.
A true Christmas carol (Joy to the World) has the antidote that Mr. Lennon longs for but cannot find:
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness
And wonders of his love
So what have we done? Not nearly enough. But He, the Prince of Peace, has done everything. And that he should make this merriment for us, borne of the joy of reconciling us to himself, is truly shocking.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – The war is over!