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God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord’”  Luke 2:10-11 NIV 

During the Christmas season each year, churches like to dig out the old traditional carols and we have fun singing them, but if we’re honest, some of the words are so outdated that we don’t necessarily know what all of them mean. If we look closely though, these old songs have messages that still have pertinent meanings for us today.

For example, when we hear the lyric “God rest you merry, gentlemen” it may sound like an admonishment: “You are being too merry gentlemen, I think you should rest.” This confusion is because the meanings of the words have changed over time (also because we need to be sure to put the comma after ‘merry’ and not before). ‘Rest’ in this context did not mean relax as we recognize it today, but ‘to keep or to remain,’ so ‘God rest you merry’ was a phrase that originally meant something like ‘God keep you in good spirits.’ In fact, long before this song was published in 1760, the phrase was commonly spoken as a greeting (Shakespeare even used it in his play As You Like It in 1599!).

So how can we find meaning from these antiquated words today? After the opening lyric, the song continues: “let nothing you dismay/Remember Christ our savior was born upon this day/ To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray/Oh tidings of comfort and joy.” The whole message is conveying that we should not feel dismayed by anything because we remember this day that Jesus was born to save us from our sins, and our Christmas season is to celebrate the joy we can only find in Christ.

If you are feeling overwhelmed this December with the number of Christmas parties to attend, homemade cookies that need to be sent to school, what present to buy for which child, and what relatives need to be seated together at Christmas dinner, then remember what the angel told the shepherds on that miraculous night: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10b-11, NIV). Don’t be stressed by material things, for the savior has come. Spread the good news! What a miracle! Put down that wrapping paper, get the flour out of your hair, and rejoice! I bet your spirits will be raised.

God rest you merry,

Erin Tabor

 

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of  https://www.stockfreeimages.com/4012247/Caroler-Ornaments.html           

Accentuate the Positive

“Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.”  
Romans 12:2, CEV

Years ago, my husband and I visited Vancouver, Canada. Cool temps, long days, beautiful vistas, and friendly residents made our stay memorable. Several times while there, I was asked to repeat something I’d said. Whenever I did, the comment that usually followed was … “I love your accent.”

Dialects and accents often reveal the vicinities or regions from which people originate. Most areas of our world have distinctive tongues. I think we can all agree, it’s easy to peg someone from Great Britain, Asia, the Bronx, or Boston. And, yawl—what about that unmistakable southern drawl? It’s a dead giveaway, isn’t it?”

Accents are significantly influenced by the amount of time we spend in an area, regardless of our birthplace. I’m originally from St. Louis, but I’ve lived in the South far too long for that to ring true. When my husband was in the Air Force, we spent over five months in New Mexico. Whenever we returned to North Carolina, some said I’d already picked up an accent.

What do our accents reveal about where we spend the majority of our time? Do we immerse ourselves in the world, or do our words and actions reveal our place in God’s earthly kingdom? If we’re professing Christians, can others tell by the words we speak and the things we do?

In 1944, Johnny Mercer, a southern boy from Savannah, Georgia wrote the song, Ac-cen-Tchu-Ate the Positive. Inspired by a sermon, the song’s lyrics encourage us to dwell on the positive and eliminate the negative in our lives. In other words, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it.

The tongue is a small part of the body, but it holds the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). The words we speak and the ways we say them reveal the things we’ve stored in our hearts. Our words create actions, good and bad.

Let’s be people whose mouths are filled with life—those whose speech reflects the character of our Creator. When others engage in conversation with us, may our words be so distinctive that they not only reveal where we’re from but whose we are. Let’s be people who are asked to repeat what we say, and then perhaps hear … “I love your accent.”

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” –Psalm 19:14 ESV

Blessings,

Starr

The gift we’ll never lose

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”Luke 2:11 

You may have noticed this writer has been a little absent of late. My family has recently moved after a nerve-wracking period of transferring jobs. As the military joke goes, “Hurry up and wait.” There has been a great deal of transitions, as we now live in a different state. We packed up our house ourselves, toddler in tow, and drove the seven hours to our new home.

I have come face to face with not having my wants met. Our hearts’ cry is to bring another child into the world, but yet God is not allowing it at this time. We are once again in‘the stretching phase.’ Recently very dear family has also suffered a devastating setback. Something they were so close to having was quickly taken away, plunging them once again into waiting and hoping. I am reminded of the verse, ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.’ (Proverbs 13:12)

Any transition is hard and this new season brings on its’ own challenges. Finding a church, friends,even places to take our toddler to play all take time, patience, and a little humor. This new season of our life has also brought the desire to add to our family. My body needs a little help, so we’ve begun seeing a specialist after a year of trying.

What are we to do in the waiting? What are we to do when we are surrounded by those proclaiming God’s goodness in their lives, celebrating all His blessings?

I have come face to face with the question: Do I love God for who He is? Or do I love him for what He will give me? Maybe like me you remember asking a jolly man in a red suit for gifts this time of year, eyes aglow with visions of toys. Let’s remember the best gift God has given us, that will never be taken away: Jesus. Let us love God for who He is and what He has done. Let us love Him for the right reasons,not just for the blessings we hope for. More painfully, let us love Him regardless of our circumstances.

When we set our eyes on the eternal perspective of Jesus, our trials become far more temporary. Were member this is not our home. We remember the greatest gift of all, a humble child born in a manger, come to save us all.

In Him,

Amy