I love this time of year: the smell of evergreen, the warm glow of lights, the extra time to spend with family and friends.
The parties. The holiday events. The tidings of good cheer. Everyone’s a little more grateful, a little more joyful. It would be all too easy for me to forget that we are still a people in need. We are in need of true joy that lasts beyond December 25th.
As perfect as the decked halls with boughs of holly and evergreen may seem, the broken realities of this world never stop. Tragedy still hits. Loved ones still die. Sin doesn’t care who you are or what day it is. It will rear it’s ugly head, and it is up to you to stand firm in the truth that is written across your heart.
We get sick, but one day we will be healed. We die, but death has no victory in the end. We cry, but one day He will wipe every tear from our eye. (Revelation 21:4)
Every day we have a choice. Every day we must choose to hope for what is to come so we may overcome.
This message of hope in a hopeless world isn’t a unique thought of my own this Christmas. It’s a reflection on a well-known Christmas carol and a personal favorite of mine: Oh Holy Night! (I literally get goosebumps every time I hear my sister singing this song.)
The song dates back to 1847, although the lyrics ring just as true today as when the French poet, inspired by the book of Luke, wrote the poem for Christmas mass.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
You don’t have to look far to see a world in sin and error pining. Working at a news station, my awareness is only heightened. I am daily reminded of our need for a savior, and it makes me all the more grateful for the hope that I have in Christ.
From that first bite of apple to Sodom and Gomorrah to worshipping false gods to today’s breaking news headlines, this world has long needed a Savior. Though we would continue to rebel, God sent His Son to save us from ourselves. And that is what we celebrate on Christmas Day – our hope has come. A light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
A thrill of hope
Our hope in a hopeless world is this: He promises not to leave us in our weary anguish. We recognize that things aren’t the way they are supposed to be – yet. But they will be.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
No matter what you are going through, hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:3-5). Too often, I’ve said “I don’t want to get my hopes up” because I think I might be disappointed if I do. But Paul says that’s not hope. Hope is far more than an expectation. It’s more than a wish. It’s a gift backed by a promise from God. It is radical. It is thrilling. It is what Christmas is all about.
And in His name all oppression shall cease
The third verse of this beloved Christmas carol commissions us to live our lives for the one who saved us and in return help others find the hope of freedom. The lyrics are specifically compelling given the historical period in which the song was released in the United States. Rampant with slavery in the mid 1800s, Americans would have been given much to think about with verses like this:
Truly he taught us to love one another,
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
The song became a favorite among Northerners during the Civil War as it acknowledge the freedom Christ has given us.
The hope isn’t just an eternal hope. The hope is now, allowing us to experience freedom and empowering us to live lives that glorify him on this earth.
The joy of the holiday season isn’t sustained by the lights strung on the tree or gifts wrapped underneath it ( though finding the perfect Christmas tree does make me pretty darn happy)! The joy of the season is sustained by the One who made that night Holy, the one who brings a new and glorious morn, the One who thrills our souls with hope.
Photo credit: Elisabeth Giovannucci