With the season of advent upon us, I drafted a blog entry exhorting believers to remember why we celebrate with anticipatory joy this coming month. The familiar topic is usually in abundance during this time of year so would my entry merely add to the noise?
During my procrastination to click “publish,” I came across this article on the Nations Foundation blog. After reading, I quickly re-thought my original subject matter. I was particularly taken aback as the author, Rachel Karman, cited the first verse of “O Holy Night”:
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.
Usually when I sing this song, I be sure to put on my best falsetto, as if trying out for “The Voice.” Rarely do I give ample attention to each lyric. This time, however, something grabbed my attention - one line that, I think, underscores our anticipation for December 25th:
The weary world rejoices.
You see, for a brief moment in human history the world was absolutely perfect. Man was at peace and lived in true harmony with all creation. That is, until sin and darkness entered and took its reign in the world. Rebellion, disobedience, and unfaithfulness resulted in forgetfulness (of God) and ultimately estrangement. Even to this day we are living under a domain of darkness - and so deeply that many aren’t even aware of their withdrawal from the Lord (and adamantly refuse, nay, deny to believe so).
With the current events happening locally in the States and elsewhere worldwide, it’s quite clear that we are in constant opposition to one another, pining in our own sin and error. Mere support for any political party has somehow become synonymous with one’s personal beliefs thus foregoing any empathy and compassion for one another; for Christian evangelicals, it would seem every other people group is receiving support and encouragement from the culture at large but not for themselves; the President’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is reigniting the ongoing contention in the region - a sensitive conflict dating back to the establishment of David’s kingdom; even in Kenya, there is an ongoing battle for the presidency - despite a repeat election - that dates back generations and is further exacerbated by tribalism and culturalism.
A weary world indeed.
However, the ancient world was not to be forever bound by darkness, and nor are we. While living in the States, I often judged how ridiculous consumerism seemingly took over the hearts of believers, myself included, during this season. I was my own Ebenezer Scrooge. I have since realized that we the Church, amidst our shopping, decorating, and peppermint mocha sipping, are not merely replacing our joy with balls of holly. Like the saints before us, rejoice in Christ who came to fulfill the word of the prophets and the promise of our Lord. We rejoice in knowing our hope has come to reclaim His throne. The joy made available thousands of years ago is the same joy we now celebrate; a joy that we share through our obedience to Him and our becoming like Him each day.
So, let us not grow weary as if there is no hope. Instead, let us celebrate in the ways we do. Let us break out the decorations and pull out all the stops. Let us buy our 7-ft noble (not douglas) fir trees at Costco. Let us shop until late hours of the night, looking for the perfect something for a particular someone. Let us build our gingerbread houses while singing along to Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas album circa 1994.
And let us continually rejoice and praise Him for what has been done and what is to come.
A new and glorious morn.