Saturday, December 22, 2012

Words of Advent: Hope

 Day nineteen of a daily meditation, a practice of free writing on words of Advent this season...

[I wrote this post below, three years ago, after a Christmas Eve service.  Since then, "O, Holy Night" has been my favorite Christmas hymn, and not a year passes when my soul doesn't ache with the hope proclaimed here in song.  I dug back to this piece of writing, back to my pre-blog days when I posted notes on facebook, and thought this was worth sharing once more.]

"O, holy night, the stars are brightly shining, It is the night of our dear Savior's birth..."

A reverent awe begins to settle inside me; a dim light slowly growing, brighter and brighter. I am keenly aware tonight: I am not alone. And I am standing on holy ground. As if the angels were hovering in the beams of the church's ceiling, drawing back the curtain of time and heaven, whispering, "Watch this, child, and wait..." The backdrop is set, and I am transported back in time in my imagination.

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"Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared, and the soul felt its worth..."

The voices of several hundred strangers beside me in this congregation lift like a swell. I'm caught up in a moment I didn't realize I had hungered for, a moment carrying me beyond myself. I feel the anticipation building inside me, how deeply I need a Savior, how long we all have waited for this One to come. How long He waited so patiently, until the time was right, to come to us... How faithful He is.

"A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn..."

My cheeks are wet now, streams of tears running down my face. Hope. This very thing I have been meditating on, desiring to lay hold of, hungering for - it's right before me now, disguised in the tiny frame of a baby that somehow contains God. Hope will not be a baby forever. And this baby will grow to experience loss and betrayal and rejection, will know grief and heartache, and will have to wait in patience for his desires to be fulfilled. Hope will grow into a child, and a teenager, and then a young man. Hope will live, and hope will die. But then... hope will rise again. But hope would not exist without this baby. Hope breaks into the gray skies with the promise of a beautiful display of color as the sun rises. It's a new and glorious morn.

"Fall on your knees... O hear the angel voices... O night divine! O night when Christ was born!"
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I am overcome as I watch all this unfold in my imagination. This baby born to die as a man is ever before me. He is unfailing love. He who has loved unconditionally, yet is loved conditionally, is incapable of loving any other way than unfailingly. He who was rejected is incapable of rejecting me. He who chose me to be His before the foundation of the world is incapable of no longer wanting me. Yes, I am overcome; I cannot speak, cannot sing. I can only lift my hands with the tears streaming down my face, for there are no words to speak...

No words, except, "O, night divine!"

This is the One I have waited for.

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