Few songs get my vocal cords burning like the beloved Christmas hymn, O Holy Night.
I just love it.
I love the melody; I love the lyrics. I love that it was originally declared ‘unfit for church services’ throughout France (seriously, google it). I love that it was later embraced by the US abolitionist movement, and that is now one of the most recorded and played Christmas carols. Of all time.
But most of all, I love how it so beautifully captures what the Christmas story means for our world. Especially this line in the first verse…
“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn.”
For all its joy and wonder, the world has certainly felt weary this year.
In the last few weeks we’ve seen cyclones impacting millions of vulnerable people in India and Bangladesh, more families forced to flee North-eastern Syria, and further reports of exploitation in textile mills and factories across the world. Closer to home we’ve seen devastating bushfires, drought, and homelessness.
Our world can feel so weary and broken… abounding in poverty and hunger, conflict and exploitation, loneliness and strife. And yet, this season faithfully reminds us of a new world that is coming.
We are reminded of a story of a God who came into the mess and the brokenness as a tiny little baby, to usher in a “new and glorious morn”. We are reminded of a God who invites us to join Him in His work of restoring all things. And it is in this space, between the world as it is now and the world as it one day will be, that we experience a thrill of hope.
That thrill of seeing glimpses of God’s kingdom breaking in. That hope which comes from witnessing Jesus break through the darkness, oppression, and exploitation to bring healing and justice to those who so desperately need it.
In 2019, we’ve seen more and more fashion companies committing to ensuring that workers in their supply chains are being paid a living wage… and we’ve felt a thrill of hope.
We’ve seen the communities who we work with reporting dramatic reductions in the number of child marriages… and we’ve felt a thrill of hope.
We’ve seen mums and dad grow their livelihoods so radically, that they can provide for their precious children and plan for the future… and we’ve felt a thrill of hope.
God is at work restoring this weary world. He is bringing in a new and glorious day, and we are invited to join Him in His work – to experience the thrill of hope that this will surely bring, and to do all we can to help others experience that same thrill too.
So, this Christmas season, I hope you will join me in burning your vocal chords as your belt out this song. And as we sit in that tension between what is and what will be, may we bring that same thrill of hope to people and communities around the world.
Go to: baptistworldaid.org.au/be-hope and give hope to a family this Christmas.