Paul Laurence Dunbar, a black poet, was the first of his family to be born free. During this season, as we contemplate Advent, we realize that freedom comes in many forms. In what ways have our hearts been set free? Our spiritual freedom is the result of Christmas in our hearts!
The snow lies deep upon the ground,
And winter’s brightness all around
Decks bravely out the forest sere,
With jewels of the brave old year.
The coasting crowd upon the hill
With some new spirit seems to thrill;
And all the temple bells a-chime.
Ring out the glee of Christmas time.
In happy homes the brown oak-bough
Vies with the red-gemmed holly now;
And here and there, like pearls, there show
The berries of the mistletoe.
A sprig upon the chandelier
Says to the maidens, “Come not here!”
Even the pauper of the earth
Some kindly gift has cheered to mirth!
Within his chamber, dim and cold,
There sits a grasping miser old.
He has no thought save one of gain,–
To grind and gather and grasp and drain.
A peal of bells, a merry shout
Assail his ear: he gazes out
Upon a world to him all gray,
And snarls, “Why, this is Christmas Day!”
No, man of ice,–for shame, for shame!
For “Christmas Day” is no mere name.
No, not for you this ringing cheer,
This festal season of the year.
And not for you the chime of bells
From holy temple rolls and swells.
In day and deed he has no part–
Who holds not Christmas in his heart!
by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
Christmas Day is no mere name.
For those of us who hold Christmas in our hearts, it is a season of high praise and rejoicing!
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.Ezekiel 36:25 – 27 NIV
His Spirit in us … Christmas itself living within us!
“Grace enlarges the heart!”
Our pastor spoke those words almost 10 years ago, and they still echo during this season! At that time, I envisioned the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas … “And what happened then? Well, in Whoville, they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.”
I will run in the way of your commandmentsPsalm 119:32 ESV
when you enlarge my heart!
Christmas in our hearts, the Spirit’s presence within transforms us from the inside out, setting us free from the tyranny of sin. Stony hearts are small, narrow-minded, affected by selfishness, pride, and covetousness. But now we burst with hope and generosity as the Spirit’s fruit grows within.
May our heart transplants be made complete in Him – the One who cuts out our hearts of stone and replaces them with flesh – that the Spirit of God might have His way with each of us … and this season, we celebrate Christmas in our hearts!