Ah, the Christmas season is upon us and we can anticipate the celebration the birth of Christ, often times with the benefit of those great, meaningful carols of old. O Come, Let us Adore Him. Silent night. The First Noel. And, of course, Away in a Manger. Songs of deep reflection and encouragement. It seems like we just can’t get enough of them. But then there are those “other” songs that cause us to wonder how they ever made it into the cache of celebratory carols. The one that really gets me is, We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
It is a popular secular sixteenth-century English Christmas carol whose origin lies in the tradition that the wealthy people of the community would generously provide Christmas treats to the carolers such as figgy pudding- a custard-like pudding containing figs that may be baked, steamed in the oven, boiled or fried. Yum!
So what really gets me is not that the carolers actually wanted this stuff, or that they were willing to go to such extremes as to brave the cold winter nights to procure them, but that they were so rude in the acquisition of this mush.
First of all, their devious plan included a benediction upon the unsuspecting occupant of any given household. They would sing, “We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” And then the refrain, “Good tidings to you, where ever you are, Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.” Can you imagine the busy housewife engaged in her holiday cooking coming to the door to receive such a “blessing,” only to be lured into the trappings of the second verse?
The carolers continue. “Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer.” Three times they demand this! Not only have they interrupted her holiday chores, but the inconsiderates are now demanding her to take time to prepare a figgy dessert and a hot toddy to “finnish ‘er off.” Color me simple, but it seems a little presumptuous to say the least.
But the little demanding punks don’t stop there with their demand for entitlements. Come to find out this was an ultimatum. So resolute are they in their determination and open defiance that they issue an ugly threat to take the property hostage. “We won’t go until we get some, so bring it right here.” Not only do they demand the gift, but free and immediate delivery before the holidays as well! The ugly scene parallels any supermarket standoff that plays out thousands of times across this land between a parent and a child over a sought-after treat in the checkout line.
This poor family who was enjoying their time together in front of the Christmas tree now has an angry mob gathering on their front lawn demanding this Yule-time “entitlement”- an “Occupy Christmas” event if ever there was one. And such an attitude has pervaded and infected our posture toward God for the last five centuries if not longer, the idea that God is a benevolent neighbor from whom we can demand gifts, or a “Santa-God” who owes us rewards for “being good.”
God is not a genie in a bottle, nor a vending machine God who is compelled to dole out the items on our endless shopping lists of desires. Rather, God is the one who chooses any gift to be endowed to man, and He already decided that in the giving of His Son as our redemption.
John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
The reason for the season is to remember the greatest gift ever bestowed upon mankind. There is only one choice – to reject Him, or humbly receive the gift of life.
[The Shepherd’s Echo is a previously published TheShepherdsPen]