Sometimes we have to provide the meaning.
How many times have we sung, “The First Noel?” It is a wonderful, commonly known carol. You most likely can sing it from memory – tune and verse. If you need a little help, I’ll get you started:
The first Nowell the Angel did say
Was to certain poor Shepherds in fields as they lay.
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
In a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
If you remember it slightly different, you are probably right, as well. There are many versions of “The First Noel,” or Nowell . It makes sense, really, considering the hymn dates back to the early 18th century and has made its way through countless Christian and popular revisions.
Today’s Sunday Coffee Cup reminds me of the popular and often misunderstood carol. Do you know what “noel” means? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Noel derives its meaning from a French word (which came from a Latin word) that means “day of birth.” So, we are singing about the day of Jesus’ birth. It is a little difficult to ‘get’ the meaning of Noel from my coffee mug this morning.
The snoozing teddy bear and children’s block letters spelling Noel are – well – where’s the Christ in that? This morning Christ is there all right, but not because of the secularized image on the mug. No. The Christ of this Christmas morning rises, like the steam from this mug, from the beloved family, friends and fellowship of my life. So, today – I will take the time (amid the busyness and chaos) to savor the moments of the day. The unwrapping of gifts will be symbols of the greater gift we have all been given. The indulgence of the meals will remind me of the abundant table that Christ sets before us. The laughter and tears (for both will come today) will remind me of the intensity of a life lived trusting a higher power. And this little sleeping bear, resting unknowingly upon the very word that announces Christ’s birth reminds me that because of what we celebrate this day – all is well.
Merry Christmas, my friends. Merry Christmas.
P.S. As I post this, Bing Crosby just began singing "The First Nowell" on the Panadora Christmas channel. Perfect.