It is Christmas Eve and carols are being played and sung almost non-stop on radio. There are of course many types of Christmas music: the secular and the religious. In this politically correct age, it is really nice when radio stations actually play Christmas music that proclaims the reason for Christmas: the birth of the Christ child.
One of my favourite carols is ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’. The lyrics, written by Christina Rossetti in 1872 and set to Gustav Holst’s ‘Cranham’, reflect the lyricist’s commitment to her Lord, Jesus Christ. One line in particular stands out for me: ‘Yet what can I give Him: give my heart.’
Giving one’s heart suggests the surrender of one’s whole self. We celebrate Christmas in remembrance of God’s great gift of His beloved Son for our redemption; and Rossetti’s response to this was to reciprocate by giving Him her heart. For Christians, this is exactly what God requires of us.
Christmas is not simply a time for buying presents and being generous to friends and family. It is a time for being generous to God as well – the same God who loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us; and then, through Jesus’ resurrection, has given those of us who ask Jesus into our lives His gift of eternal life. Why, then, is there a tradition of gift giving at Christmas? Do we give because God first set the example by giving of Himself through the gift of His Son?
We celebrate Christmas to commemorate the birth of Christ, God’s gift to mankind. In this world, it is often easy to lose sight of this. We get caught up with getting Christmas dinner ready, buying presents for our friends and family, eating, drinking, partying and general consumerism. And so we forget the reason for Christmas.
There were some lovely carols being played today on Classic FM, and ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ was only one of them. However, the last line of this carol always chokes me up. And I ask myself, ‘Have I truly given Him all my heart?’
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