When you dig into the real substance of Christmas, it’s all ultimately about hope: hope for redemption from sin and salvation from darkness. But how many of us really see Christmas as the season where desparate despair is conquered? Maybe we’re just distracting our minds from tragedy for a time during the holidays, while the days surrounding Christmas can bring a fatigue and stress of their own.

So, what about the promises of redemption first glimpsed that Christmas Day so long ago? Do we long to see a dark night end with the new day’s dawn? As Jennifer Fritz writes in Patheos, this probably isn’t on our mind. We hear scripture that tells of a time without tyranny, of joy for the lowly, of the destruction of evil doers, and how do we respond?

For goodness sake, Lord, let me go shopping in peace! It’s not that you don’t see where some people would find that kind of scripture enormously helpful. But you’ve got to be pretty far into the hole before you’re hungry for some good old fashioned messianic promises.

Consider with Fritz the profound difference between secular holiday tunes and ancient Christmas carols. It’s quite notable. The former group celebrates all the good things we enjoy this time of year (nothing wrong with that), but the latter group emphasizes a spiritual impoverishment – even bondage – that only a Savior can change. So enjoy those joyous, light-hearted holiday melodies, but listen closely to those meaty Christmas carols. Let them speak to the longings of your soul.

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

Image Credit: St. George's School