I love the beautiful Christmas song O Holy Night. It’s a difficult song to sing, so we don’t usually sing it as a congregation. But if you want to hear an excellent rendition of it, watch our Christmas Eve service on our YouTube channel. Meagan Olson did a fantastic job with it at our service that afternoon.
One of the lyrics from the song that I’ve seen highlighted in a few places this year is the phrase “A thrill of hope.” For as many times as I’ve heard those words, this year was the first time they really made an impression on me. The full sentence in the song reads, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
I’m weary. We just completed a very busy season in our congregation, we’ve been short-staffed at church for several months now, and pandemic-related challenges persist. Thankfully, God is providing rest for me this week at my in-laws’ cabin, and next week we welcome Jeremy to our staff. I won’t speak to any coming relief regarding the pandemic. I learned a long time ago to not predict what will happen with all of this. But to the bigger point, I don’t think I’m alone in feeling weary. Many of you could make a similar list of things that are making you tired. The song says that the whole world is weary, and ultimately, we get weary because this world is broken by sin.
It reminds me of the long list the prophet Jeremiah made in Lamentations 3. He described his weariness this way. He said his flesh and skin were wasting away, he was besieged with bitterness and tribulation, dwelling in darkness, enslaved, silenced, desolate, threatened, a laughingstock and the object of taunts, bereft of peace. “I have forgotten what happiness is,” Jeremiah laments.
But then he says, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion…therefore I will hope in him…It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” No matter what causes our weariness, there is hope in our weary world, because as the song declares, a new and glorious morn breaks. Jeremiah proclaims that his hope was found in the new mercies of God every morning. God’ faithfulness is great and His steadfast love never ends.
Jeremiah encourages his readers to wait patiently for the salvation of the Lord. The Christmas story joyfully declares that the Lord’s salvation has come! The coming of the Messiah brings a thrill of hope, joy to a weary world. On this side of Christmas, we are a people of joy and hope, because our salvation has come. Yes, we get tired and weary, by lots of things. But ultimately, we are marked by joy and hope because of the thrilling arrival of the One who makes all things new.
I like that the New Year so closely follows Christmas. When the calendar flips over, we like to look ahead at the year that is to come and what that year will bring. Because of God’s steadfast love and mercy, Jeremiah says that each new morning brings hope. As we anticipate what 2022 will look like, Christmas tells us to look ahead with rejoicing and a thrill of hope. “For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
My prayer for each of us is that 2022 would indeed be a Happy New Year!
In Joyful Hope,
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