As we enter into the Christmas season, a longstanding tradition at many churches is the breaking out of holiday hymns that herald the birth of the Christ child Jesus. A number of songs offer messages of hope, praise and joy.
One such Christmas song was penned by Edmund Sears in 1850 entitled “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” Upon scrutiny of the lyrics of the time-honored tune, we find a number of adjectives employed, from solemn, weary and sad to lowly, crushing and painful. These words depict a people who are burdened, bent low by the “woes of sin and strife,” and required to toil over each step in life. In his words, Sears was describing our plight as fallen mankind.
In the same song, however, Sears shared an antidote for our fallenness. “Look now,” he asks, “for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing; Oh, rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing.” Sears isn’t imploring the reader to simply cheer up or put on a happy face, because the message of the angels brings peace and is wrought with hope.
This Christmas favorite serves to you and I as a reminder that the answer to the problems and questions of life had came near to earth. The power and the presence of God Himself now walked among men. Among us was the One who could free us from the burden of sin, who could enable us to know joy and peace.
Later in His ministry, Jesus shared these words with those who had ears to hear, saying ”Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light,” (Matthew 11:28-30).
This week, take heart that one day, all of creation will join in that song, lifting praise to the Prince of Peace. We celebrate Christ’s advent, but we don’t have to wait for a second coming to begin singing, celebrating, anticipating and sharing the news with those who are less fortunate, downtrodden or lost.