A Night Divine

During this Christmas season, my ears were opened to the truth sung in our traditional carols. The words are often repeated and heard so often that we sing them mindlessly. The music stirs joy in our hearts, but we don’t pay much attention to the actual lyrics. (Or at least that’s true for me.) But this year, on three different occasions, I heard “O Holy Night” and realized how the words proclaim the “reason for the season.”

I copied the lyrics below and put some of my favorite lines in bold.

O Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees O hear the angels voices.
O night divine O night when Christ was born
O night divine, O night, O night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
O night divine, O night, O night divine

So much of the holiday focuses on the story of the Nativity (which is important indeed). Yet the significance of the story is forgotten in the sweetness of the manger scene.

Jesus was born in a stable, amidst the chaos of shepherds, wise men, farm animals, and two new parents. God incarnate was there in the crowded, dirty, smelly stable. Life is messy. And on that divine night, God joined us in the messiness. He was no longer a stranger to our weakness and chaos.

The significance of the Nativity story is that God chose to be with us in our messed up world. Because He loved us, He joined us. His love was proven; the soul felt its worth. The Nativity story gives us purpose and importance.

As a result, we have hope. The birth in a manger led to death on a cross. The cross broke our chains. And so, a birth defeated death. The hope is that we no longer have to fear the world. Evil has been conquered. 

Because God joined us, loved us, and defeated death, we have a mission: to spread love and peace. There’s a lot of anxiety, pain, and sorrow in the world tonight. Until Jesus comes back, there’s not a lot we can do to get rid of the evil. Yet we can do as Jesus taught us, loving the world and living in peace. I’m not good at it, but I’m reminded of the significance of small acts of kindness.

So tomorrow, as we open gifts, read the Christmas story, and sing carols, let us remember why we celebrate Jesus’ birth. The words of “O Holy Night” say it much better than I ever could. The lyrics are familiar but ring ever so true.

Listen to Rend Collective’s rendition here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnPMWpwGiA8.

Merry Christmas!

– – Phebe


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