My Advent Playlist Day 5: Always Winter, But Never Christmas

So last year I blogged through the entire month of December to celebrate Advent season, and all in all it was a pretty successful venture! I felt very much plugged into the spirit of the season, and learned a thing or two about myself along the way. On the other hand, it almost killed me, so this year I embark on the same quest with no small amount of trepidation. I figured I could mitigate some stress, though, by messing with the formula a little. So this year I'm using Christmas carols as thematic springboards for my Advent blog posts. Each day I will pick a line from a Christmas carol and reflect on its meaning in the context of my/our experience with Christmas this year.

Always Winter, But Never Christmas

In CS Lewis' classic family novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, four young siblings stumble upon another dimension by way of an old chifforobe, and therein discover a world under a curse.

The children meet a faun called Mr. Tumnus who explains how the world behind the wardrobe, Narnia they call it, is cursed with eternal cold. "Always winter, but never Christmas."

Always winter, but never Christmas.

This curse plays a pivotal role in the story so I'd rather not go into much greater detail, but suffice it to say it's bad news. Check out the book though. For real.

Then along comes Relient K, Christian pop punk band with a propensity for philosophical, party rock. They released a Christmas album (Let it Snow Baby, Let it Reindeer) in 2007, filled with clever covers and a few original ditties, a handful of them incredibly poignant, spiritual, and beautiful.

And one of them (one of my favorites) is called, you guessed it, "Always Winter, But Never Christmas."

Here, give it a listen. I dare you not to cry.

Seriously, this may just be a me-thing, but these words cut through, straight to the core. They speak of the cold, the dark, the lingering, primal fear of winter, of death. They resonate with the feelings of those of us who, come December, are already desperate for some sun, some hope.

Imagine a world without Christmas to cut this dark season in half, and where, in fact, the dark and cold never yield to the coming spring. This is the curse of Narnia.

And the sad fact of the matter is, it is our curse too, for within this world, which can possess so much beauty, some are captive in pockets where the cold and dark never seem to lift. Think of those oppressed, by depression, by addiction, by those in power. This is actually quite a real part of what it means to be human in a fallen creation.

It may even be said we all know something of this existential stuck-ness. Theologians and poets call it the curse of sin, of a world where we isolate ourselves out of fear, shame, and selfishness. Where we can't be real or vulnerable with each other. Where we neglect and abuse one another, at times without even meaning to.

And indeed, the Christmas story finds a people very much in the midst of a long, cold winter. The Israelites had been conquered and enslaved by nearly every neighboring tribe, and had not heard from God or his prophets in four hundred some years. They were at this time occupied and ruled by the Romans and, perhaps understandably, felt abandoned by God.

But then comes Christmas.

Then comes a child, a baby, born to a couple of young, unmarried peasants. Born outdoors, surrounded by farm animals.

Unceremonious but for the choir of angels, announcing the coming of God to a few (also poor) shepherds.

Such a small thing, this first Christmas. The birth of a babe, hardly unique. It's happened billions of other times. But there was something about this one, about this baby. This baby meant things would be different from then on.

Christmas makes winter survivable. Winter without Christmas can seem hopeless. But now, just as then, Christmas means that we are not alone after all, that God has not forgotten and will not leave us.

I'll leave it to RK to provide our finishing thoughts here:

Cause when it's always winter, but never Christmas
Sometimes it feels like you're not with us
But deep inside our hearts we know
That You are here, and we will not lose hope


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