'Tis the Season? (Deck the Halls, Good News, & Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
“Tis the season to be jolly
fa la la la la la la la la…”
It is a rather meaningless tune when you stop to write it out, but no less jolly. When “Deck the Halls” was first written in 1877, it was decidedly festive. Perhaps a bit too festive, with several verses dedicated to drinking barrels of mead and passing around a bowl of intoxicating beverages.
‘Tis the season for what, then? I hope it will be jolly and festive for you and your family. But I also hope it will be joyous and reflective as only Christ can give. The Angel Gabriel promised, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).
Perhaps it is hard for us to consider good news and great joy when the surrounding world is in the midst of runaway violence. But those who boast of evil will fall (Psalm 52). Consider the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor executed at the hands of the Nazis in 1945:
“For the great and powerful of this world, there are only two places in which their courage fails them, of which they are afraid deep down in their souls, from which they shy away. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ.”
We rightly tremble at the humble majesty of the manger and the violent grace of the cross. As we celebrate Bethlehem, Golgotha is within view. Let us keep our joy in the midst of attack.