In a few days, my wife and I will get on a plane with our two girls and head down to Grammy's house in Raleigh, NC. Now I love my in-laws. And I love southern winters. I lived in the south for eight years. And it's nice when "a really cold day" is in the low 40s.
And yet there's something about going out on Christmas day to play football in t-shirts and even shorts, that just doesn't seem right to someone like me who grew up in Indiana.
A couple years ago, her family took us to see the musical "White Christmas." You even got a free cookie and hot chocolate at intermission. But all the talk about a "White Christmas" seemed a little artificial since it was in the mid 60s outside. We weren't even wearing jackets.
I find it interesting that Irving Berlin reportedly wrote the song, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" at the side of his pool in LA.
Yet that's the reason the song is so popular. Because no matter where you're at this time of year, the song stirs up Christmas emotions.
They say Bing Crosby's version sold 50 million copies. And when you count other versions, the song has sold 100 million. It's ranked as the #1 Christmas song of all time.
But what really made the song popular was the way it struck a chord with the soldiers fighting in the WWII. And with their families who were waiting for them back home.
Imagine being a young kid in WWII on the other side of the world. Some of you were. You're eating army rations or starving in a POW camp. Fearing for your life. Thousands of miles away from your family and your home. Or imagine being a family member.
And think of those words. I'll just read them and spare you my singing.
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas Just like the ones I used to know Where the treetops glisten, and children listen To hear sleigh bells in the snow
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas With every Christmas card I write May your days be merry and bright And may all your Christmases be white
You see the soldiers' dream was for more than just frozen precipitation or some Yankee weather. It was what? An aching longing to be home. They wanted the war to be over. They wanted to go home and enjoy their families and live their lives.
For them dreaming of a white Christmas was a noble dream-an aching longing for a better future.
And yet long before WWII, someone else was dreaming a similar dream. Someone else had an aching longing for a better future. And that someone was God.
And here in this passage, 700 years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah tells us about God's aching longing.
And in v. 18 we read, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
This is the white Christmas God is longing for-for us-that our lives stained by crimson-red, would be washed as white as snow.