Merry. A word meaning happy, joyful, cheerful, glad. A word that invokes in us a feeling of lightheartedness and ease and memories of times spent with those we love and depend upon. A word that encompasses every human emotion that we can relate to any type of elation. A word that can only be described as a balloon or pinata that when probed for deeper meaning bursts into an array of warmth and good tidings. Merry, a word that can be no less perfect when describing the beginning of the One True God putting into full action the plan which He had from the beginning of His creation. Merry we shall be when we come to understand that the lowly birth of God in human flesh to a virgin is nothing more than step one of a plan that will make salvation available to a world of sinners. Merry indeed! Merrily we frolic in this undeserving hope that has come from this night when angels made harmony in the heavens, wise men came to offer gifts, and kings sought to destroy this Spotless Lamb. With blood stained hands we who have been saved follow the instruction of James 5:13 and sing psalms celebrating this night of God’s grace being put into action. Merry swallows all those lyrics – “Joy to the world,” “all is bright,” “tidings of comfort and joy,” peace on Earth and mercy mild.” The word is perfect in describing the condition that fills the Christian heart as he or she thinks that on that night, a baby destined for rejection, pain, restlessness, and a criminal’s death was spoken down from Heaven above as a gift, a perfect gift, so that we might have salvation.
The physician Luke seemed to have an affinity for this word “merry.” More than any other of the gospel writers, Luke uses this word. None more so is this word “merry” used than in his quoting of Jesus Christ Himself in Luke 15. As Luke wrote this passage that we know today as the story of the prodigal son, whomever he interviewed to get these quotes stressed Christ’s usage of the word that we translate today as “merry.” Four times between the verses of Luke 15:23-32, this adjective “merry” is used. A focus on one of those four usages though is one that may be often overlooked.
It is in verse 32 that we find the father or elder of this household attempting to explain to the brother of the prodigal what is the cause for celebration. This father is attempting to talk down the anger of a brother who has watched as his brother scoff and waste the undeserving and unearned gifts from his father. While this brother has been loyal and trustworthy with his father’s love and riches, he is now seeing a celebration of immense proportion take place as this jerk, this philanderer, this sinner, has returned home. Undoubtedly this brother was confused as to why his father would be so welcoming to something so low that had taken what he had to offer and spat upon it. Is it not the case that this brother has forgotten that from his birth, when he was unable to do anything or display any loyalty, that he has been just as undeserving as his brother of receiving the gifts that his father earned? It is here that the father in this parable of Christ so elegantly interjects the value of Christ’s kingdom, his church, here on Earth.
The father tells the son in verse 32, “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.” In response to his son’s question of the appropriateness of the celebration, the father tells his son who he loves that this is totally meet (proper). There was nothing wrong with celebrating the occasion in the father’s eyes because there, in their midst, was one who was lost in an ocean of bad decisions, regret, and selfishness who had been led back home to the loving arms of a family. The father does not even address the argument of deserving as in his eyes, that son was no less deserving of his grace and gifts than the now arguing brother. It was proper to be merry. The father’s emotions of glee could only be summed up in that one word.
Therefore, let us not look at this upcoming Christmas holiday as simply the celebration of the birth of Christ. It is so much more. It is but a beginning to a story and the ground breaking of a well of mercy that has now been flowing with living waters for 2000 years. As we celebrate Christmas with our churches and families, let us look upon the faces of these people we love and be merry. There is no greater gift that we can actually touch here on Earth than those fellow Christians among us so look upon the faces of those people. Look upon them and think about the pains and triumphs you have shared. Further, there is no greater gift that we can give than the sharing of our merriment with those who deny this savior. Use God’s word and let the world around you see the reason for your festive heart. Show others that this is not the celebration of the end of a nine month gestation, but the jubilant recognition of the beginning of a perfect journey that we so eagerly await the end of.
It is proper to sing and feast in celebration of the birthing of a savior who has taken us and washed us with the blood that He gave for us. Blood which none of us deserve but rather have been gifted as we continue to walk toward death and His loving arms. In this blood, grace, and sacrifice, let us, one with another, be merry. For it is meet.