At first glance, the title of this carol may bring to mind a table full of men, all enjoying merriment of one kind or another—a glass of ale, a burger and fries, or a song with a good beat playing on the jukebox. We can all picture a time of feeling “merry.” I’m sure we have greeted others plenty of times over the last couple weeks saying, “Merry Christmas!”
So what is it to be merry? Certainly, being cheerful and lively is part of it. Yet I think the refrain of this Christmas song gets it right. It talks of tidings, that is, the Good News of Jesus’ birth. “O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy.” When we are joyful, we are certainly merry.
God rest you merry, gentlemen,
let nothing you dismay;
remember Christ, our Savior
was born on Christmas Day
to save us all from Satan’s pow’r
when we were gone astray.
The mere idea of Satan’s power alone can be a sure zap to our joy. That is until we realize it has no grip on us! 1 John 3:8 says, “But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.” Good tidings to be sure!
From God our heav’nly Father
a blessed angel came
and unto certain shepherds
brought tidings of the same,
how that in Bethlehem was born
the son of God by name.
Luke 2 tells us the story of the shepherds hearing the angel’s message. That was a message they couldn’t keep to themselves. I have always been proud of those shepherds for not letting their circumstance keep them from sharing. They, of all people, had an excuse. Who would ever believe them being outcasts of society? But they gave glory to God and told everyone they knew.
We can share the good tidings, too. We may be in the later part of the Christmas season, but the Good News doesn’t change. There are still people hungry to hear this news, to feel the comfort and joy that comes from knowing Jesus. Who are you going to tell today?
“Fear not,” then said the angel,
“let nothing you affright;
this day is born a Savior,
the true and radiant light,
to free all those who trust in him
from Satan’s pow’r and might.”
There’s that power of Satan we have to deal with again. The angel clearly tells us we need not fear that power. We are free of Satan’s hold on our lives. We are not immune to Satan’s attempts to distract us, create doubt, or tempt us, but we do have a Savior ready to defend us. 1 Timothy 4:18 says, “Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.”
The Holy Spirit living inside us gives us a bit of a radar which sounds when evil is trying to manipulate us. I have often been in a situation where my insides just didn’t feel right. It’s almost as if I was queasy without being sick. You may have experienced the Spirit inside you giving you messages of “be careful” or “watch out.” Romans 8:9 says, “Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” That is one thing we can do, especially when we listen to our “gut” feeling.
Now to the Lord sing praises,
all you within this place,
and in true love and fellowship
each other now embrace;
this holy tide of Christmas
is filled with heav’nly grace.
Let us not let the “holy tide” of Christmas leave us when we pack away the decorations for another year. The message of Christmas is filled with heavenly grace. Jesus himself arrived. John 1:14 says, “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”
Let the blessings promised in Romans 3:23-24 set the tone for your prayer time and how you live your life today. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” Those are some “good tidings” to be sure!
Let’s pray. Lord, fill me anew with your perfect peace. I thank you for the tingle I feel when I sense your presence. Give me discernment to see evil for what it is and not fall prey to Satan’s power in this world. Thank you for your grace and for loving me so much. May I continue to be your light in this dark world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.