Monday, December 20, 2010

A White Christmas

Yes, it's that time again when you can't visit the shops without being subjected to "Christmas music". I don't mean carols like Hark the herald angels sing or Handel's Messiah, but Merry Christmas by Slade or Mistletoe and Wine by Cliff Richards. It's enough to make you want to stay at home and buy all your pressies on the internet.

I suppose that one of the best loved of these songs is White Christmas by Bing Crosby. You know how it goes, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...". In fact, by the wonders of modern technology, Welsh opera singer Bryn Terfel has recently recorded a new version of this song, where he sings a duet with Crosby, who died 33 years ago.

I'm not going to try and second guess BBC Wiltshire’s weather forecasters by predicting that our county is going to see it snow on December 25th. That’s not exactly my job. But whether that happens or not, I want to suggest that it is possible to have a White Christmas this year. "What do I mean by that?" Well, for Christians the coming of Jesus is often associated with snow. Take a couple of well know Christmas carols,

See amid the winter’s snow,
Born for us on earth below,
See, the Lamb of God appears,
Promised from eternal years.

And most famously perhaps, In the Bleak Midwinter, in which it snows rather a lot,

Snow was falling,
Snow on snow,
Snow on snow
In the bleak midwinter,
Long, long ago.

I have to say that Christina Rossetti’s words don’t sound half as good when spoken, as when they are sung to Gustav Holst’s wonderfully haunting tune. Singing that carol certainly conjures up visions of a snowy, white Christmas. But what I have in mind by a white Christmas is taken from a passage in the Book of Isaiah. He was the Old Testament prophet who foretold that Jesus would be born of a virgin,

"Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (7:14)

Isaiah also said concerning Jesus,

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6)

This same prophet issues an invitation from the Lord to all who will listen,

"'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow'" (Isaiah 1:18).

That is what I mean by a “white Christmas”, the Lord’s gracious offer of forgiveness and cleansing.

This fresh start is possible because of Jesus. Joseph was told concerning Mary, "And she will bring forth a Son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21). Jesus came into the world to die on the cross for our sins, so that those who believe in him might be forgiven and be put right with God.

Having a White Christmas needn’t be just a dream. Because of Jesus, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow'".

* Broadcast on BBC Radio Wiltshire as part of a pre-Christmas "mini service". Listen here, about 41 minutes into the show.


Jonathan Hunt said...

Did you have a slight cold when you recorded this?

Exiled Preacher said...

What's that supposed to mean?