Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into His presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, He is God!
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise!
Give thanks to Him; bless His name!
For the Lord is good;
His steadfast love endures forever,
And His faithfulness to all generations.
I put on some Christmas music last night while I was making dinner. I don’t care that the First Sunday of Advent is still more than a week away, and Christmas itself a month off. World events of recent weeks have left me wrung out and sorely in need of Joy.
Taking a cursory glance at my Facebook feed, it seems to me that we Christians have been an especially joyless, thin-skinned passel of sourpusses lately. From the annual boo-hooing about store clerks saying “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” to the tempest in a Starbucks coffee cup — it just wears me out. I need Hope. I need tidings of comfort and joy.
Aye and therefore be merry. Rejoice and be you merry. Set sorrows aside. Christ Jesus, our Savior was born on this tide. — “A Virgin Most Pure”
Surely human beings from the dawn of time celebrated a winter holiday because they also needed Hope and Joy. The darkness encroaches on shortening days, and we need to be reminded that the sun will come again, that there is still reason to celebrate. For us Christians, that winter holiday is Christmas. I know it pales in theological significance to Easter … and yet there would be no Easter without Christmas — because “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” Besides, Christmas has all the best music and food!
Yet with the woes of sin and strife, our world has suffered long. Beneath the angel’s strain have rolled 2,000 years of wrong. And man at war with man hears not the love song which they bring. O hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing. — “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”
The Baby in the stable came to set us free from our worst enemies: death, hell and sin. In the midst of cancer, terrorism and injustice — all of the things that weigh down our hearts — there is Hope. So, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, set sorrows aside. Sing the carols, light the tree, frost the cookies. Show all the weary world the tidings of comfort and joy.