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53 — We Need a Little Christmas

Greetings and welcome to The Perio Hygienist Podcast. December 2020 edition.

How are you? I mean really? Not the general normal-greeting-kind-of “How are you?” but the deeper question that requires a pause and a deep breath. Might the word anxious describe it? Are things bugging you, sort of in general? It’s a question of mood. Sure, there are specific problems we are each dealing with that are unique to ourselves and our particular circumstances, but then there is also something more collective, more subliminal, more just a mood…

But moods certainly matter, don’t they? I find that I make better decisions when I am feeling generally healthy, secure and happy.

The reverse is also true. If there is a general tension in the air, or I am not getting a good night’s sleep, then I can become easily distracted and the decisions I should be making are either postponed, poor ones or both. My head is not in the game, as they say. And how could it be any other way when given this specific time we are living in? December 2020 – a holiday season like no other in our lifetimes.

This year, we are encouraged to stay apart. I’m glad, at least I can talk to you via this podcast, because getting together is really difficult. Christmas parties and events are all subdued and even cancelled with the hope that maybe next year all will be well. Looking at and reading the news provides little comfort and cheer as well, and if you are like me, you are looking at too much of it. So what to do? Well if you have listened to any of my earlier podcasts, I think you have come to understand that one of my personal objectives is to pull art and science together – to make us whole people, not isolated from one another and not operating in silos of knowledge where we have to stick to certain lanes – like healthcare – especially when what we need, science alone cannot, is not intended to, supply. And right now, what I think at least I need most is a little Christmas cheer.

[We need a little Christmas]

Haul out the holly Put up the tree before My spirit falls again Fill up the stocking I may be rushing things But deck the halls again now For we need a little Christmas Right this very minute Candles in the window Carols at the spinet Yes, we need a little Christmas Right this very minute It hasn’t snowed a single flurry But Santa, dear, we’re in a hurry So climb down the chimney Put up the brightest string Of lights I’ve ever seen Slice up the fruitcake It’s time we hung some tinsel On that evergreen bough For I’ve grown a little leaner Grown a little colder Grown a little sadder Grown a little older And I need a little angel Sitting on my shoulder Need a little Christmas now

[ALL] Haul out the holly [MAME] Haven’t I taught you well

To live each living day? [ALL] Fill up the stocking [YOUNG PATRICK] But Auntie Mame! It’s one week from Thanksgiving Day now [ALL] But we need a little Christmas Right this very minute Candles in the window Carols at the spinet Yes, we need a little Christmas Right this very minute [AGNES] It hasn’t snowed a single flurry But Santa, dear, we’re in a hurry

[ITO] So climb down the chimney It’s been a long time since I Felt good neighbor-y

[ALL] Slice up the fruitcake It’s time we hung some tinsel On that bayberry bough

For we need a little music Need a little laughter Need a little singing Ringing through the rafter And we need a little snappy ‘Happy ever after’ Need a little Christmas now

[Instrumental march]

Need a little Christmas now I just love the magic of music and the arts when they are used to package a strong reminder of hope. I find it absolutely therapeutic. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas comes at the darkest time of the year. And in places north enough to have seasons, it’s also the coldest time of year. Christmas seems to come when we most need it.

The hope in a star. The silent night near a feeding trough turned into a makeshift cradle. A baby born at the worst possible time in the worst possible circumstances who also was heralded by a choir of angels. Something was happening. A miracle was to unfold before the eyes of shepherds and wise men to us as well as the stories have been passed down to us generation after generation. Still relevant? You bet! And here is what I find so important in my own life – especially when low moods hit me. The good news is that the good news has nothing to do with the evening news. It has to do with a mystery I think we can easily find in a few old Christmas carols if we just pause and take a little time to do so. So, let me share two of my favorites with you — God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen and Joy to the World. The oldest of the two originated in the 16 th century in England and the earliest known printed edition was published in 1760. It has had different names to include God Bless you, Merry Gentlemen’ and “God Rest Ye, Merry Christians’. Charles Dickens mentions it in A Christmas Carol, first published in 1843, at the beginning of the story when Scrooge is on a rant in his counting house

and terrifies a poor soul who tries begging for alms by singing through Scrooge’s keyhole. “At the first sound of God bless you, merry gentlemen! May nothing you dismay! Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.” [Insert Hymn] God rest Ye merry, gentlemen, Let nothing you dismay, For Jesus Christ our Saviour Was born upon this day, To save us all from Satan’s power When we were gone astray: O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy. So what does the carol mean, especially that first verse, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen? God rest you. Rest is the verb. We understand what rest means, but this is an odd usage for us.

Think of it this way. It’s a blessing, like God bless you, but instead of bless, which is a general idea, this is the blessing of rest. So what do anxious people like us here in 2020 need a lot of? Rest, quiet. So the carolers sing, “May God hold you, keep you, or wrap his arms around you. The word merry modifies the verb rest, not the gentlemen. This I think is the key. Now this isn’t a different merry from the one we know. It means happy. If someone is merry, they are happy. Merry Christmas, means happy Christmas. So what does it mean to rest merry (we might say merrily). Merry rest is a rest that is happy or joyful. It’s a rest knowing something compared with getting rest not knowing what is going to happen. God rest you merry. Therefore, the line is saying, “May God keep you and give you joy.” Another way to put it might be, “May you find sustained happiness in God’s loving arms.” This is the same idea as blessing someone with comfort and joy – which shows up as reinforcement for this idea a few lines down.

Resting merry, is a sustained delight compared with the fleeting happiness generated by having a good time. It is celebration without the hangover. It is enjoyment without later regrets. The true joy of heaven is deeper and more satisfying than anything the world is able to offer because it is grounded in the work of God on our behalf, rescuing us from sin and death. And what about the final word gentlemen?

Well, it makes this statement more than just a thought or idea. It becomes a proclamation. And it isn’t just to men. It’s to people. What kind of people? Gentle ones. Good ones. Good people. It is an announcement of good tidings of great joy, something an angel might declare. And more than a proclamation, it is an invitation. Gentlefolk everywhere, YOU are invited to rest in God’s joy. Which brings me to another favorite carol, Joy to the World. [Joy to the World] Joy to the World is another very old hymn. The lyrics for Joy to the World were penned by Isaac Watts (1674 – 1748) who is famous for having written 750 hymns with many of them still sung in churches today.

But it really isn’t the volume of his work that distinguishes him from others great hymn writers. Before Isaac Watts, the words to music sung or performed in churches came out of Scripture directly. He introduced new poetry taking psalms and filtering them through the newer truth of the New Testament, namely the life and work of Jesus. He believed Christianity should have a distinctive sound and message. For example, his famous Christmas carol, Joy to the World. Did you know he took it from Psalm 98? So, let me read you this psalm and see what you think. Psalms 98 A Call to Praise the Lord for His Righteousness. O sing to the Lord a new song, For He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him. The Lord has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, With the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn Shout joyfully before the King, the Lord. Let the sea roar and all it contains, The world and those who dwell in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, Let the mountains sing together for joy Before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness And the peoples with equity.

Joy to the World was actually written about Jesus’ second coming and how the world will be different when he comes to rule. Let me read the lyrics of this carol. Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room,

And heav’n and nature sing, And heav’n and nature sing, And heav’n, and heav’n, and nature sing. Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy. No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found, Far as the curse is found, Far as, far as, the curse is found. He rules the world with truth and grace, And makes the nations prove The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love, And wonders of His love, And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. This has been The Perio Hygienist Podcast, a podcast produced for a few comprehensive dental offices around me to include a lot of wonder dental hygienists – and for any and all dentists and dental hygienists from anywhere who wish to list. My name is Dr. Ben Young. Finally, let me pray for those who wish it. The prayer will come after the music ends.

Our Father who art in heaven, please rest us merry. Open our hearts once again to the Spirit of Christmas. Give us this day that portion of comfort and joy we so desperately need. Heavenly Father, we acknowledge that Christmas is your present to us. Help us receive it with gladness and unwrap it with thanksgiving, in spite of our mixed feelings that, for many, if not all of us, include some sadness and fear. Remind us that your most profound and costly gift to mankind is the cross. This is because it was through the cross, as the carol says, that you saved us from Satan’s power when we had gone astray. And thank you that joy enters the world when the Lord is come.

Open our hearts to receive our King. Give us ears to hear heaven and nature sing. Make your blessings flow through us as far as the curse is found. Please rule over us and this world with truth and grace. Impact the nations and establish life in righteousness. May goodness win. May evil lose. And may the wonders of your love abound now and forevermore. Amen. Merry Christmas Everyone!

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