They said there’d be snow at Christmas
They said there’d be peace on Earth
But instead it just keeps on raining
A veil of tears for the virgin birth
I remember one Christmas morning
A winter’s light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that Christmas Tree smell
And eyes full of tinsel and fire
“I Believe In Father Christmas” by U2
Because of the way the world is, I need stories and songs that tell the truth about the world. While I love beauty and live by hope, there is so much that is so very wrong in the world, so very wrong about the world, that I cannot stand art that lies about who we are, and how we are to live, about who God is and what kind of world it is.
One of the great gifts of my lifetime has been U2’s music, and from watching history over the last generation, scores of thousands join me in that, from every corner of the earth. We have come to believe that Bono and his band will tell the truth about life, full of joys and sorrows, glories and shames as it is for everyone everywhere.
Christmas is wonderful in so many ways, and yet, and yet… it is also a time of deep sadness. Not only is its promise still to be seen, longing and groaning we are for “peace on earth,” but so many people come into the days of December with dread, feeling in their very bones the alienation and angst of life in this very wounded world.
How do we hold it all together? It’s not easy, for any of us. But the way I do, stumbling with hope as I am, is to listen to the stories and songs that tell the truth about the world. Joy to the world? Yes— but in a world where the curse has reached into every square inch of the whole of reality. There is a tension, living in the profoundly now-but-not-yet world that we do, and we have to be honest about it.
I believe, and I have reasons to believe, and yet, and yet.
(Yes, “a pealing bell and a Christmas tree smell,” with the words, “Merry Christmas” in Romanian, from our very own tree– the prettiest Christmas tree ever, of course.)