A Message for the Weary7 Dec, 2023
How do we realistically walk the line of rejoicing and weariness in times such as these? A classic Christmas carol holds some answers.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
In my home, there is one Christmas tradition I truly adore.
It all began on a hot Christmas Eve, about 20 years ago. No air conditioning meant late-night swims in the ocean baths was our way to cool down. My father said, “Let’s go and see if there is a midnight service at the cathedral.” I’d never been to a liturgical service before but felt certain wet swimmers and a towel were not appropriate attire. But my father believes the Church should be a place for everybody, no matter how they arrive. He knew we could quietly stand at the back without causing too much concern.
So, we did, and it changed my life.
Praise on a Hill
The cathedral is awe-inspiring. A slightly different experience from my usual Sunday service at the community hall. High on a hill, the worship echoes out across the city. A city full of people who possibly like you – but definitely like me – arrive at the end of the year, weary.
Weariness can be a difficult thing, especially as believers. Navigating our very real earthly burdens with our even more real, sovereign God can be at times, complicated. However, like all things, God has a plan and a humble Christmas carol from 1847 holds some life-changing clues…
A Weary World Rejoices
It could be my heart playing dramatic tricks on me, but 20 years on, I still remember the impact of first hearing the 40-voiced choir sing out, “The thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices.” To this day, that line brings me to tears.
O Holy Night is ‘the’ carol for me. I cannot explain it but every time I hear it, especially on Christmas Eve, my heart rips open, and my soul sings ‘amen’ to the hope and peace made available to me, because of Jesus.
It’s a story of redemption and salvation but it also kindly affirms that being a human can be weary work at times. There’s no shame in that, nor any reason to hide it. God knows this and cleverly built a Holy framework for our weariness and how to manage it. It’s called… the Church.
Heaven’s Practical Plan on Earth
The Church – A place where no matter how you arrive, you belong. Weary, happy, despondent, doubting, just average, or hope-filled, there is room for all of our human emotions in the House of God.
I could write a novel about how this carol’s heaven-soaked lyrics have guided my often-weary heart back to the hope we have in Jesus. I’m forever encouraged by its gentle reassurance that weariness and hope aren’t mutually exclusive, and there’s room for both in God’s house.
But how do we realistically walk the line of rejoicing and weariness in times such as these?
Take it to the Chorus
“Fall on your knees, oh, hear the angel voices.”
Sing that line a few times in your head. The key is so simple it’s easy to miss but ‘Fall on your knees’ is an act that can and will change you whether you are weary, joyful or a bit of both.
‘Fall on your knees’ is really saying – stop, let go and look up.
Physically and emotionally, assume a posture of surrender. Now, it’s easier said than done and sometimes it really hurts, because letting go also means choosing to trust God, completely.
Fall on your knees, before who? The King – who knows you, loves you and is for you. You cannot control the world, but you can control your perspective.
‘O Holy Night’ reminds us that we will be weary at times, but we do not need to do it alone. This is God’s heart for us and His Church every day, not just at Christmas.
CAP partners with local churches because it is ‘the place’ where anyone weary from the weight of the world can find a place to safely, fall on their knees, lift their eyes and let rejoicing slowly begin.
Words by Holly Clayton.