Around this time of year, commercial radio playlists often feature Christmas songs, some of which have little to no relevance to the experience of a summer Christmas in Australia, such as White Christmas or Winter Wonderland, to name but two.
When a Child is Born, which was a big hit for Johnny Mathis in 1976, has global relevance, irrespective of which hemisphere you live in.
The spoken word portion of the song speaks of hope and yearning for the birth of a child who will end sadness, war, hate, misery and suffering, but this is "all a dream, an illusion now." This child has yet to be born.
I never realised this until my pastor mentioned it in a recent sermon. The birth of a child is usually a joyous event, but this song is actually quite sad. To paraphrase him, why is the world yearning for such a child, a Messianic figure that carries the hopes of the world for things to be better than they are? Jesus was born 2000 years ago. Far from being an illusion, in his time on earth, he did all of those very things, but most people failed to realise who he was.
Even during this Christmas season, when un-churched or secular people may be thinking about the true meaning of Christmas, how many really understand that only Jesus is the fulfillment of these hopes (Revelation 21:1-8)?