I have a few favorite Christmas songs. By that I mean that there are very few songs that come on that don't merit a gasp paired with an "I love this song!" from me. One of my college best friends, Mandy, and I have always unashamedly listened to Christmas music all year round. Sometimes you just need a little N'SYNC Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays in your life, you know? But, generally speaking, I think it's easy to pigeon-hole Christmas music; the songs are about the birth of Jesus or a whole other host of seasonally-appropriate themes, all of which immediately call to mind December, red and green, and a whole lot of sweets.
However, last Sunday at church I had a new experience with an age-old song. The band played O Holy Night, and as I sang along, one of the lyrics struck me in a different, more poignant way than ever before. A way that is relevant to the situation of our world not only today, but constantly.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.
Now, before I go into my whole spiel, I did some fact checking and looked up the actual dictionary definition of weary, because I think it's one of those words we all use, but maybe we aren't familiar with the exact Merriam-Webster meaning.
- lacking strength, energy, or freshness because of a need for rest or sleep
- bored or annoyed by something because you have seen it, heard it, done it, etc., many times or for a long time
If I know one thing to be true, it is this: we are a weary world. I'm not standing here and saying that the world has gone to hell in a hand-basket only recently, as I know history has shown us time and again that terrible things can and will happen, both naturally and man-caused. But I don't think any of you would disagree with me when I say this: we are tired. I'm tired of turning on the news or checking into social media to find another attack on innocents, another citizen turning a gun on their peers, another senseless act of terror. I'm tired of needing hashtags and viral images to show we stand in solidarity with our fallen brethren. I'm tired of living in fear for what will come next, what horrible thing will top the last.
We cannot dwell on our fatigue with the ways of the world. Ever since Eve bit into that apple we have seen history repeat itself. The fact is that we live in a fallen world, and we are not meant to see peace and prosperity... not yet.
But today is Christmas day, a day when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior: a thrill of hope. We, as a weary world, have been seeking hope in the wrong places. In different gun control laws. In tighter immigration screenings. In new leadership. In eliminating terrorist cells. I cannot and will not say that any number of changes to our world will not help our situation in some way or another. But I can promise you that is not where we will find our hope.
I asked for a crock pot and running shoes for Christmas this year. I remember thinking, "damn, this must be adulthood." However, I'm feeling extra adult on this evening as I grasp firmer than ever before to a lyric: this is my grown up Christmas wish. I'll leave hoping for World Peace to the pageant contestants, but I do have something heavy on my heart:
My prayer this Christmas is that you'll all feel the love and hope that only comes from Jesus Christ. I pray that we will close out 2015, wipe away the tears of hurt, and walk into 2016 with our eyes turned heavenward. I pray that we will not be focused on or bothered by the little things of this world, and that we will be quick to take our hurts and requests to God. And, most of all, I pray that we will continue to anticipate those pearly gates and the deliverance of this weary world from all of this strife and sadness. Because one day we will dance in Heaven, break bread with our Savior and celebrate the love and happiness, without a thought to all of this darkness.
Merry Christmas, and big love and hugs to you all! Keep clinging to that thrill of hope.