Christmas Concert – December 11th, 2016
“Deck the Halls”
Deck the halls. That's tonight's theme. When you hear this song, what comes to mind?
Well, perhaps if you’re a sports fan you think of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto or the Baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown.
If you like good music, such as we’ve heard this evening, you might think of Carnegie hall.
If you’re politically minded, you might think of the halls of congress.
If you’re a Marine, or know someone who is, you might start singing, “from the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli”.
Or if you’re a fan of reading good books you might recall the magical, Great Hall of Hogwarts castle.
But as good as these halls are, it’s not quite what this song or season is about.
And while we’re clearing up misconceptions, Deck the halls is not a call to violent action, even though you may want to deck something or someone else this holiday season. Nor does that little line “Troll the ancient yuletide carol” give us permission to fill Facebook with snarky comments. It has even less to do with actual trolls. And, though it may be obvious, “the blazing Yule” is not talking about Yul Brynner. No, it’s a yule log. So let it be written, so let it be sung.
It is a whimsical, jovial, festive song about Christmas, and one of the common things we all do at Christmas. We gather.
That’s what a hall is for, after all. It is a gathering place: to admire athletic achievement, to listen to good music, to govern, to defend, to dive into an imaginary, magical world.
That’s one of the things we do at Christmas, we gather. In our own homes, many of us gather around the tree, the table, and gifts. And if you do not have a home or friends or family to gather with this holiday season, I hope you’ll come and talk with me or one of our members, we are here to be your family and to share the love of Christ with you.
Here in the Lord’s house we experience something similar, but far better. We also gather - or rather, God gathers us - into the halls of his Church. God gathers us around the tree of Jesus Crucified for you, at the table where Jesus’ body and blood are given for our forgiveness, and where Jesus’ gifts of life and salvation are given freely to you, for you.
This is the real reason God gathers us during the Advent and Christmas seasons, whether it’s for a joyful concert, Sunday services, or the special services on Christmas Eve.
We may not have a yule log (or a fireplace burning - this is Southern California, after all); we may not have wintry wind and weather; and we may never really know what Fa la la la la la la la means; and yet we gather together to deck the halls with the most ancient of yuletide carols. O Come, o come, Immanuel...and ransom captive Israel.
We gather together and hear how Mary rejoiced and sang at the news that she was to be the Mother of God and bear a Son, our Savior.
We gather together and sing with the angels: Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, goodwill towards men.
We gather together and join the shepherds in beholding the glory of God in an infant child born to save you; and join them in spreading this good news with everyone we know.
We gather together to rejoice in this Prince of Peace who was born for you - not in the great halls of Caesar, or in the halls of Herod’s palace - but in the humble hall of straw and dirt, in a manger in Bethlehem.
And when the Lord decks the halls of Bethlehem he does it in the most unexpected, yet joyful way. Unto us a Son is born, and unto us a Son is given.
At Christmas God gathers us together to rejoice in the great and gracious mystery, that from the pure and kingly hall of the Virgin Mary, was born the Savior of the nations.
At Christmas God gathers us together to announce that God has become man to deliver you from sin, death, and all evil.
At Christmas God gathers us together that to rejoice that in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of His only Son, we become children of God.
At Christmas God gathers us to rejoice with angels, shepherds, family and friends in the good news of great joy for you and all people: unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ your Lord.
At Christmas, we deck the halls of the Lord’s house with thanks and praise to God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
A blessed Advent and Christmas season to each of you.
In the Name of Jesus.