Unfortunately for me and everyone within earshot, my favorite Christmas hymn happens to be the most difficult to sing. A challenge, yes, but the lyrics compel me to beckon my inner Mariah and let the pipes roar. I find most Christmas songs cheeky, but this one destroys me in the best possible way. Melody aside, I’d like to invite you to read this as I’ve formatted it instead of in sing-song.
“O holy night the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices. O night divine, O night when Christ was born.
Truly He taught us to love one another– His law is love, and His gospel is peace.
Chains He shall break for the slave is our brother, and in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we. Let all within us praise His holy Name:
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever! His power and glory evermore proclaim.
O night divine, O night when Christ was born.”
Maybe it’s age and awareness, or maybe it’s this year in particular, but this hymn resonates with me more deeply right now than ever before.
This world is weary. As we approach the finish line of this calendar year I feel exhausted for our world, sobered by the greed that plagues us all, and saddened by the vehement and vocal division in our nation in particular. In short, I feel weary. What happened this year? It felt as though each day we woke up to a new series of devastations, of hurts, or horrors. And they haven’t let up. We kept moving, stay busy, and try to distract ourselves with the walls of our immediate bubbles, but with the end of another year in sight I see it— in sin and in error we, as a nation and as the human race, pine for something different, long for something that feels distant, and grope for something out of our reach. Longing, pining, and wearied from the brokenness of the world. It’s probably always been this way, I’m just very aware of it this year.
Perhaps it is the weariness that makes the rejoicing sincere, the contrast that makes hope feel thrilling. A new day is coming, a new time, and he tells us this: “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Is. 43:19). The promised deliverer has come, and he has and does and will continue to break chains and set the captives free, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…” (Luke 4:18). His law is love—to love Him and our neighbors. His gospel really is peace—forgiveness, freedom, reconciliation, and restoration.
Are these not exactly what the world is pining for?
Love. Acceptance. Freedom. Peace. Unity. The cessation of oppression.
We long for who Christ and his gospel are and offer. And I think we deceive ourselves into thinking that “if we could only just ___________________” that it would someone fix what is holistically, systemically, and universally broken. We cannot fix ourselves. We cannot fix others. We cannot fix this place. This does not mean we should not take measures in trying, it simply means that we are not and will never be the ultimate solution to the brokenness.
We need Jesus.
This is why his birth is worth rejoicing over. The hope of him fulfilling his promises is thrilling. So may we too, having weathered storm upon storm this year, cry out among the weary in rejoicing.
“Christ is the Lord! O praise his name forever! His power and glory, evermore proclaim.”
Merry Christmas everyone,