It’s a little late to be talking about Christmas carols, but I couldn’t help myself! Not many people know that the lyrics of ‘O Holy Night’ were originally written by a French composer who was asked to produce a poem in honor of a recently completed church renovation. (Incidentally, it was written in 1843, the same year Charles Dickens completed A Christmas Carol – what a year for Christmas!) Although the poem was adapted and translated to English a few years later, the beauty and depth of meaning remains extraordinary. The second half of the first verse is particularly striking to me as we begin a new year and a new season in the life of PTCUMC:
‘Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Though Christmas Day may already feel like a lifetime ago, these words continue to breath life into our calling as a church. We live in a community that is less hopeful about the future, more disconnected from each other and questioning more than ever where they might satisfy a deep-seated longing for meaning, purpose and value. In short, our neighbors are weary and wondering where to look for hope.
The gift of Christmas is an inexhaustible well of hope that goes well beyond the ‘wishfulness’ that we typically associate with hope. The hope of the gospel is a specific and powerful hope that entered the world when Christ was born; it points us toward the fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption of the entire world. This year is a ‘new and glorious morn’ for PTCUMC! We have work to do in a weary world – it’s time to introduce our neighbors to the ‘thrill of hope’ that comes when we love God and love our neighbor!