Worn out?

Worn out from all your holiday activities?

Imagine that you were Mary and Joseph, carrying the secret of your child’s identity for months. Then your child arrived when you were a long way from home. Surely you’d be exhausted and want nothing more than to hole up for a month or two. Take some family leave. But Mary and Joseph had one more duty to perform. As observant Jews, they needed to go to the temple to present their firstborn son to the Lord.

They could not have expected what happened there. They encountered two people, Simeon and Anna, who confirmed their child was God’s Son, the ultimate expression of God’s redeeming love. Simeon had seen much in his long life, but when he held Jesus in his arms, at last he’d seen it all.

I wonder. What if Mary and Joseph had decided sleep in? What if Simeon and Anna had decided, at their age, it just wasn’t worth going to the temple anymore?

There will be lots of days when we won’t feel inspired. There will be lots more when we want to sleep in. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about. We may even have good excuses. But sometimes, like Mary and Joseph, we need to do the right thing even when we don’t feel like it.

You don’t have to be smart, creative, inspired, well-dressed, or good looking. Anyone could have an encounter with the Messiah.

Sometimes, all you need to do is show up.


For over 50 years, students at the University of Illinois have had a unique way to spread holiday cheer. It’s called “Dial-A-Carol,” where live volunteers answer phones around the clock to sing any Christmas song you like. What volunteers lack in musicality, they make up for in enthusiasm, and they get calls from around the world.

Recently, the hosts of the Today Show thought it would be fun to call in. Host Tamron Hall asked, “What song shall we ask for?” Al Roker suggested “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.”

Tamron, age 45, said she’d never heard of it.

If you’re surprised, consider the finals of The Voice that same night on NBC. Contestant Jordan Smith sang, “Mary, Did You Know?” Afterward, Coach Adam Levine said he had never heard of that song, but was happy Jordan insisted on singing it because it fit who he was.

To be fair, Adam Levine is Jewish, but all this confirms my observation that sacred Christmas music is becoming increasingly rare on radio and TV. Kids are rarely taught it in school. Christmas pageants are nearly a thing of the past. And it’s not just Christmas carols that people no longer know. When couples who get married in our church request that the congregation sing a hymn at their wedding, almost no one sings. They not only don’t know the song, they don’t even know what to do with the hymnal.

We can either long for the days of Christendom, when everyone knew the songs because society expected everyone to be in church, or we can be the church God is calling us to be today. We have the privilege of making the Good News of Jesus Christ come alive for a new generation. We get to be the church for those who don’t know the great music of our faith, much less what it means.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is timeless, and can speak the truth of God into every culture.

What a privilege we have. What a joy to share the joy!