I hear many different answers to the question "When do you know it's Christmas?" or "When does Christmastime start for you?"
For me, it starts with Advent, the Serious time when the church looks at the state of God's world and remembers what it must have been like -- what it IS like -- to say "Yes, we need a Savior." (That part of the church year starts tomorrow, four Sundays before Christmas.)
That's why one of my favorite parts of Advent is singing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," Latin 12th century words set to music by Thomas Helmone in 1854.
The first verse begins:
O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
But -- you're used to this by now, eh? -- the last verse goes deeper:
O come, Desire of Nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife and discord cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven's peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook. Stop by to catch up on previous hymns; like the page to get the latest carol verses straight to you. UPDATE: If you're not going to have time for Facebook, catch up on the whole series by clicking here.