“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go…” Meredith Willson wrote the song in 1951. “There’s a tree in the Grand Hotel, one in the park as well …” Perry Como and Bing Crosby both recorded it that same year. Johnny Mathis brought it back in 1986, Harry Connick Jr. in 2008, and Michael Bublé in 2011. The renditions are endless.
And, in all honesty, I was singing it too, last week. As the snow began to fall on Wednesday the 4th, I couldn’t help myself. Now, as a self-respecting member of the chaplaincy staff, I should have caught myself and immediately switched to something holier, right?
After all, no matter who sings this or many other holiday songs this time of year, one thing is certain: These songs are obsessed with candy canes and silver lanes, toys and front teeth for children, kisses and furs for adults, and of course snow and bells. It’s a reflection of our culture, to be sure.
What is a faithful Christian to do?
Charles Shultz gave us an animated Christmas special that has stood the test of time. Charlie Brown bemoans the problems of the season and his friend Lucy explains: “Look, Charlie, let’s face it. We all know Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big eastern syndicate, you know.” But then comes that moment of sweet vindication when her little brother Linus steps forward with his blanket dropping explanation of Christmas, in which he directly quotes Luke chapter 2 from the cherished King James Version of Scripture. Who can argue with that?
So, we are empowered to put bumper stickers on our cars that tell others to “Keep Christ in Christmas” and play Joy to the World in whatever form we can. Representations of the birth of Christ are put up everywhere from public squares to front yards, reminding folks of the “reason for the season.”
This year, something hit me as I drove through Saxonburg and turned toward Concordia’s Cabot campus that Wednesday. The snow was falling and I saw the empty Nativity shed along Route 356 near the Concordia’s oldest building, the Oertel Care Center. The maintenance crew hadn’t put the Nativity figures in yet, and so that shed stood vacant… waiting.
That’s when the tune came to mind. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” What a great juxtaposition of the secular Christmas season and the sacred Advent season – an example of living in the world while not being of the world.
It’s not easy to have one foot in each world. You might have expected this devotion to choose Advent and get angry at those who have skipped ahead to Christmas, perhaps with Frosty and Rudolph and without Christ. It’s tempting to get self-righteous sometimes.
However, it is easier to rejoice with those who find joy and take advice from the Apostle Peter: “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15).
So, I decided to take a few minutes and capture all of the magic to share with you. Enjoy the slideshow of photos below.
(In the interest of full disclosure, please know that as I snapped these photos, I was indeed also humming Jingle Bell Rock and Up on the House-top alongside O Come, All Ye Faithful and What Child Is This.)
Enjoy it! After all, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas and It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.