Sing We Now of Christmas “Joy to the World”
I grew up in a strongly Seventh Day Adventist neighborhood in Southern California. I went past one of their Hospitals, their Regional Denominational Offices and their National Radio and Television Ministry Studio every day on my way to school. Their “Academy” – a church-related school – was as big as the elementary school that I attended. And some of the friends I played with everyday in the park across the street from where I lived were Adventists. We were in and out of each other’s houses all the time. And one of the things that I often saw when I was in their houses were paintings of what they thought that life after death was going to be like, and the images I saw cast a vision that was remarkably physical and this-worldly – like a nice day in a beautiful park. They always left me confused. When I died I expected to shed my body, leave this world, go to heaven and continue to exist there forever as a spirit – like an angel. This wasn’t something that I was necessarily “taught” but rather it was something I “caught.” “When you die you go to heaven,” that’s what everyone said, and then there was “The Littlest Angel” – that classic Christmas story that we saw every December in elementary school (it was the 1950’s and 60’s) and that made a very deep impression on me.