Burning Bosom

Theology, History, Culture, Politics & Life from a LDS (Mormon) Perspective

A New Christmas Tradition

Posted by Shawn L on December 21, 2007

A confession:  I’m a 100% bona fide Christmas nerd.  For me, the season begins at 12:01 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving.  By the end of that Friday, the tree will be up and boxes worth of decorations will be dispersed throughout Larsen Manor.  But this year, an old favorite has given new a new perspective on the holidays.

My favorite part of Christmas is the music.  On the secular side, I like my carols to be traditional and extra sappy.  I want no part of U2 or Bon Jovi’s X-mas warblings.  Give me Andy Williams doing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year” or Patti Page singing “Jingle Bell Rock.”  (I am whistling now just thinking about that last one.)  I have XM Radio and can be seen commuting to and from singing along with Channel 104, “Holiday Traditions.”  No, I’m not kidding.  Yes, I know I am pathetic.  I am even fonder of the religious carols.  I look forward to December Sacrament meetings to have the chance to sing them as a congregation.  It truly brings the Spirit.  

One of my nightly duties (what was that about being whipped?) is putting my daughters to bed.  Part of that ritual includes singing to them.  In December, we shelve the Beatles tunes in favor of Christmas songs.   Earlier this week, I was belting out “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” when one of the lyrics stopped me in my tracks:  “Peace on earth and mercy mild/God and sinners reconciled.” 

Now, I have sung this song hundreds of times, but the notion of Christmas being a time for “reconciliation” between God and we mortals really hit me hard for some reason.  At first blush, it’s not a particulary “Christmas-ey” message — isn’t Christ’s birth “the reason for the season?”  But as I’ve thought about it, this lyric captures perfectly the true essence our celebrations.

Reconciliation is not merely a coming together of people.  Rather, to me, it connotes a healing of wounds and a resolution of old grudges.  Nephi teaches that one of our primary responsibilities, as Christians, is to persuade ourselves and our families to become “reconciled to God.”  To do so, we must go through the painful process of humbling ourselves, accepting responsibility for our sins, and seeking forgiveness. 

The joy in this message, and the cause for our Christmas worship, is two-fold:

  • First, God threw us the lifeline by which we can achieve such a reconciliation — the birth of his Son, which set in motion (at least in this world) the events that would lead to the Atonement. 
  • Second, no matter how thoughtless I can be regarding His commandments, God never gives up on me.  Reconciliation requires only that I take the first step towards Him. 

It is the latter point that comes through to me via the song.   Christmas, it says, is the perfect time for us to take that step and forge a reconciliation.  This thought brings to mind the loving embrace between a long-suffering father and his prodigal son, serving to end a period of separation and rebellion.  Is there any better way to thank our Heavenly Father for his gift to us that recommitting ourselves to Him?

So, this year, I will still listen to my “Elvis Sings Christmas” CD and unwrap my presents with gusto.  But this year, I plan on starting a new tradition, as well — taking time to assess my personal relationship with God and taking whatever steps may be necessary to reconcile with Him.  

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