Oak Creek Canyon, Rt 89 to Sedona
Photograph by Sheryl Dawson

A Merry Little


Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people… For unto you is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord… And suddenly there was the heavenly host praising God. –Luke 2:10, 11, 13

Remember the nostalgic song, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas? It is precisely the kind of Christmas everyone envisions, with troubles out of sight and gathered around family, friends, and warm festivities. Yet, in a time of overwhelming challenges how can we wrap ourselves in the glow of the season when reality tends to darken the vision? Whatever plans we make, songs we play, decorations we place, all seem contrived when we scan the global landscape. No Hallmark movie script or set can dissolve the foreboding feeling that chaos and disaster prevail!

Into the Darkness

Recently I watched the compelling Danish movie, Into the Darkness, which poignantly portrays the divisions within a Danish family under Nazi occupation during WWII. Each family member reacted differently to their loss of freedom as they sought to adjust to imposed draconian rules and the devastating consequences of war.

As the family gathered to celebrate Christmas, the youngest son rejected his older brother’s gift, decrying his role in the German army. He objected to his father’s business collaboration with the enemy as well. In frustration and anger he secretly joined the Danish resistance to contribute to the Allies war effort; when his father discovered hidden weapons in his son’s room, to protect the family he furiously banned his son until he “came to his senses.” Each member of the fractured family sought to resolve the differences among their views, relationships, and actions in a war beyond their control.

Today’s Parallel Darkness

We do not know what happened with the family in the movie, but we know good overcame evil in WWII due to committed Allies and the resistance movement, intercessors around the world, and the grace of God! Whatever form the battle against evil takes, at the core it is spiritual. Our responsibility is to beware of deception, stand on truth, fear not, and act accordingly.

The authentic dialogue in the movie impressed upon me the realities of a disintegrating family and social order during war and oppression. The divisions portrayed by this once close-knit family are similar today in families and communities around the world.

In fact, we face a new world war, not with guns, and not even against a pandemic, but against fear perpetrated by leaders and institutions controlling the pandemic response! Families and friends, governmental, judicial, business, health and educational leaders, religious and faith leaders, and their congregants are divided about who and what to believe, how to discern the truth, and how to act. Held captive by fear, around the world people do as they are told by so-called experts, a captive media, and tyrannical governments. As in WWII behind the psychology of totalitarian control (see “Why People WILLINGLY Give Up Their Freedoms” Prof. Mattias Desmet interview) is the ancient spiritual battle. Can those who succumb to psychological manipulation have a merry little Christmas? Fortunately for the world, the answer is a resounding yes!

Into the Light

For over two millennia people have celebrated Christmas in times of war and peace, suffering and good health, oppression and freedom. In fact, Christmas offers a reality check on what is truly important. The reason for Christmas is not found in celebrations for the sake of fun, comradery, and gifts, but in honoring the Christ child who came to earth that all people may find true peace, hope, and joy.

When Jesus was born, shepherds in the field were amazed by a heavenly host of angels proclaiming the divine birth of a Savior. Awe struck they found the babe in a stable manger and worshiped Him. Later magi from the East having observed the prophesied star signifying the birth of a King in Judea, came to worship the young child in Bethlehem.

These recorded appearances were the fulfillment of centuries-old prophecies of a coming Savior, who would take away the sins of the world: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies in His life, death, and resurrection proving that He indeed is Emmanuel: Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:23

Joy to the World!

How can we have a merry Christmas amidst today’s chaos and uncertainty? As did the shepherds and magi, the answer is to worship the Christ child for He is the joy of the season, the hope of the world, the Prince of Peace:
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God….
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100

If you and your family feel buffeted, confused, and divided by the last two years of chaotic social and governmental actions, health challenges or death, work pressures or loss of job, mandates, masks, lockdowns, vaccine passports, invasion of privacy, loss of friends, censorship and cancellation, personal attacks, and offenses, you are not alone. Jesus promised to be with us in the “valley of the shadow of death” (Hebrew idiom meaning darkest of dark; Psalm 23).

After His resurrection and before ascending to heaven, Jesus blessed his disciples and told them He would be with them always. That promise is ours today as well. After Jesus’ ascent, filled with the Holy Spirit the disciples journeyed throughout the Roman Empire spreading the good news of salvation. While the first century was chaotic and cruel persecution rampant against the newly found church, yet the church flourished because the power of truth overcame all hardships and gave hope to the oppressed.

You too can receive and share the gospel truth with a world in spiritual darkness! Psalm 33 reminds us of the many reasons to rejoice in the Lord for His faithfulness, sovereignty, justice and adopting love:

Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; For the word of the LORD is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does…
The LORD foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all humanity…
May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in you.

Christmas Joy!

Jesus is as alive today as He was two thousand years ago. He calls for His church to remain faithful regardless of the cultural animosity that surrounds us. Christians have the power of the Holy Spirit today as did first-century disciples. And we have His Word through His inspired scriptures to fight the enemy who seeks to destroy our joy: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 When we focus on His truth, no one and nothing can defeat us.

Jesus entered the world by virgin birth to live as a human, experiencing all that we confront in a lost world. Mary and Joseph felt the rejection of family and community as young expectant parents who could not explain to others their miracle baby. Secretly in the night they started the long arduous journey to Egypt escaping from Herod who, alerted by the magi of a new-born king, sought to kill this perceived threat to his rule. Jesus in His public ministry experienced all manner of derision and affliction from family, Jewish doubters, political dissidents, and religious leaders. Finally, as He willingly laid down His life on the cross, Jesus descended to the ultimate “valley of the shadow of death.”

Divine JOY

Yet Jesus is more than the son of man. He is the Son of God. Jesus, the self-proclaimed light of the world (John 8:12), arose from the grave and hell, proving His divinity:
J represents Jesus, son of man and God Acts 7:56
O represents the olive branch, the Anointed One, Messiah Matthew 1:1, 16
Y represents Yeshua, His Hebrew name meaning Salvation Isaiah 59:20 One New Man Bible

Our joy is sustained by faith, love, and hope in the One who came as a babe that amazing night so long ago. Because of Jesus, you can have a merry little Christmas wherever you are, whatever valleys you have traversed, and no matter how divided are your family, friends, or community. Look to the One who brings unity where there is conflict, peace where there is fear, hope where there is despair, light in the darkness, and joy in dismay. This Christmas embrace the true meaning of the season, place your faith in the One who fills every valley with His JOY and rejoice in your Savior: Sing we the Song of Emmanuel
Sheryl Dawson
Christmas 2021