It’s that time of year. You know it well. That time of year where Paul McCartney and Wham haunt your dreams. That time of year where you find yourself doing your best Mariah impression in the middle of rush hour traffic. That one time of year where you pretend like you’ve always been an Andy Williams fan. The time of year where Christmas music reaches a level of ubiquity that is matched only by the sheer number of Amazon prime orders that it induces.
Some hate it, some can’t get enough. I for one, can’t get enough. Often times I listen to these songs and gloss over their lyrics without a second thought. I bet I’m not alone.
One afternoon as I listened to Denny from the Beach Boys wish me a very sincere and merry Christmas on behalf of Mike, Brian, Carl, and Al, I was struck by how many times I’d listened to their rendition of Auld Lang Syne and never really thought about what it meant. My guess is I’m not alone.
And so, naturally, I looked it up (thanks wikipedia).
Here are the lyrics:
Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On old long syne.
On old long syne my Jo,
On old long syne,
That thou canst never once reflect,
On old long syne.
This song has long been one of my favorites, even if one may argue it’s “Christmas” designation. It has always struck me as a song of remembrance and reflection. As I look at lyrics one can see clearly it’s written to point towards reflection. It calls us to reflect on the friendships, the losses, the joys, the pains, the successes, the failures; to reflect on the year of life that’s been lived. This time of year is one where we pause, we reflect, we remember. We laugh, we cry, we dream, we hope, we despair. During the Christmas season we often reflect on what was and dream of what could be. We hold those hopes in tension with what is and we expect and pray for things to be as they were intended.
This practice has been happening for a long long time. The celebration, anticipation and reflection of Christ’s birth has actually been going on since the days of Abraham. Advent is what we today call it. Advent: Expectation. Every advent season we look back at what was; we celebrate Christ’s birth. We mourn the reality that still all is not as it should be. Every advent season we look ahead; we hope and wait expectantly for His return.
Reflection and remembrance is healthy. It is necessary. For some, 2016 was the most difficult of their lives. For others, 2016 was filled with excitement and joy. For still some others, 2016 was somewhere in between.
As our family reflects and remembers; we are filled with anticipation. God was at work. It was a year of battle. We sat in the sorrow of loss. We rejoiced in the hope of dreams realized. We walked in the wilderness. We clung to God’s perfectly timed provision. We prayed for movement.
2016 was filled with ups and downs.
We mourned losses that have accumulated over the years
We wrestled sorrow and sadness built up by failed expectations
We fought with God for answers and movement
We witnessed another year go by where we seemingly wandered through the wilderness
We saw the dreams God gave us right in front of our faces and yet didn’t see them fully realized
We prayed for release and movement and yet only saw incremental steps
We have seen God clear paths for us.
We have seen God heal and restore our brokenness.
We have seen God patiently care for our hearts as we mourned losses.
We have seen God generously give us gifts that only a good Father can give.
We have seen God bring hope to us when we had none.
We have seen God keep His promises.
When we look back at what was we are reminded that in the midst of the struggle, sorrow and chaos our God breaks through and brings joy, calm, and hope. That is the reality of Advent. That is why we reflect and remember. It’s in the remembrance we find hope. Otherwise we simply forget God’s graciousness and generosity.
It’s hope that allows us to look forward to what God has in store for us in 2017. It’s hope that pushes us past our fears.
It’s hope that allows us to say: “Italy here we come.”
Ci vediamo dall’altra parte.