Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Summer of the Soul in December

Watching A Muppet Christmas Carol is one of my favorite family Christmas traditions. Muppets and music aside, it actually does a pretty loyal job to Dickens’ work. Even before this year’s watching, I had the music stuck in my head. I began thinking about the lyrics and wondering if the words of secularized Christmas still had any connection to liturgical Christmas. 

The first song I thought of was “It Feels Like Christmas,” which has a refrain, “It is the season of the spirit/ The message if we hear it/ Is make it last all year.” Really, the season isn’t about the spirit; it’s about flesh. It’s about a God that becomes fully man and meets us at our level. But yes, the spirit of goodwill and tidings of great joy is a message that should be carried on throughout the year even when the season is over. There is always an increase in charity leading up to Christmas, almost as if to soothe our guilt over the gluttony and spending frenzy. If the spirit of Christmas lasting all year, means charities remain out in the open and on the public’s mind, then that is certainly a good message too.

And there’s the song “One More Sleep Til Christmas.” Lyrics include:“It’s the season when the saints can employ us/ To spread the news about peace and to keep hope alive/ There’s something in the wind today/ That’s good for everyone/ Yes, faith is in our hearts today/ We’re shining like the sun.”

Whether secular or liturgical, there does seem to be something in the air that taps into people’s nostalgia and tradition that makes us want to gather with friends and family, give to the needy, recognize the season in some way. It’s an active time of doing good. I like the idea that the saints employ us, because often we see the saints in the better position by being up in heaven. But as the Church Militant, we can do things on earth they can’t. It’s on earth that the work needs to be done; we’re working on salvation, personally and communally. Special seasons, like Christmas, remind us of the work to be done. More importantly, the season reminds us of why the work is worth it. Hope, love, and peace await. There is a God reaching out for us, illuminating the darkness.

God’s message of light is heard during the longest night of the year. Even secular society knows it’s a time of reflection and family and charity. There is something in the air, whispering of Christ around us. His coming permeates our hearts, even when we’re seemingly distracted by holiday parties, gifts, and Muppet movies.

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