Christmas music is typically associated with feelings of joy. This year, it’s stirring something different in me. Something more somber, melancholy—the words and melodies clashing with news of endless bloodshed and senseless violence. Where is the hope these songs proclaim?
Instead of nostalgic feelings of happier days, I’m reminded of a scene in the late Robin Williams’ movie Good Morning Vietnam. Sobered by the brutality of war, Williams’ usually upbeat character cues the song What a Wonderful World. As Louis Armstrong sings about trees of green, red roses, rainbows, and friends shaking hands, horrific images from the tragic war scroll by in ironic dissonance with the lyrics, such words of hope gravely failing to mirror the surrounding reality.
My playlist continues as I scroll through the headlines. Can it get any darker than it already is? On this side of the world, Christmas comes at the darkest time of the year. How appropriate that in the darkest of days we’re blessed with candles and lights and words of hope. And how appropriate that come Christmas, the darkest days have passed. From here forward, the sun will shine longer and brighter, increasing each day until summer comes again.
The very first Christmas was a time of political unrest and social upheaval, a king so evil and power hungry he would resort to killing innocent children to protect his throne. In the midst of such evil, hope came alive—a hope great enough to inspire beautiful songs written in times of deep darkness.
It may not seem to be the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, with all that’s going on. It may not feel like the hap-happiest season of all. Yet if a song beautiful as Silent Night could be written in the midst of war, there is hope. God’s light is great enough to overcome the deepest darkness.