“O tidings of comfort and joy”

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How are you starting this Monday morning?  Is it with a groan over the beginning of a new week of work? Is it with regret for things said or done?  Is it with dread, fear?  Or, are you anticipating life, the opportunities, large and small, to love, encourage, and laugh?  Last week brought so many challenges in my life that I stumbled into the Lord’s Day worn down, asking myself if I could do it again for another 7 days!

The Spirit found me in our worship as our music ministers sang a joyous, rollicking version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”  Remember the opening lines?  “God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay. Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day- To save us all from Satan’s pow’r when we were gone astray. O tidings of comfort and joy.” He asked me if I was prepared to ‘rest’ in Him, to trust His provision, to know His gracious gifts that are my hope and strength!

God’s love story for us, which we celebrate anew this Advent season, is so amazing precisely because it is told to a dark world in desperate need. God sees people who hate each with murderous intent in His Name! He sees cruelty on a scale that is beyond our imagination. He hears the conversations we have inside our own heads- knows our secrets – and loves you, me – and all of this world. He knows our challenges, our competence and lack of resources.

And, He invites us to “rest” as we trust Him to work in us and through us.

Remember, His love is perfect, is not like ours! We often become impatient with someone when they disappoint us, when their ‘humanity’ becomes too obvious. We are willing to dismiss that ‘failure’ after a sin or two.  In my natural mind, in my awareness of my sin and the sins of the World, the story of Noah makes a lot more sense to me than the story of Jesus. I can understand God’s anger and the solution He proposed! “God saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil—evil, evil, evil from morning to night. God was sorry that he had made the human race in the first place; it broke his heart. God said, “I’ll get rid of my ruined creation, make a clean sweep: people, animals, snakes and bugs, birds—the works. I’m sorry I made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7, The Message)

“But God,” what a conjunction. God interrupts, “But …”  shifting the conversation. The verse continues-  “who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” (Ephesians 2:4-5, NKJV)

Advent brings us the message of redemption, hope, revealing the heart of God who demonstrates a love that defies mere “justice.” The Father intervenes not to destroy but to restore.  Will He judge with justice? Absolutely, one day – but right now the Word holds out a path to salvation. “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:6-8, NLT)

The cracks that life’s pressure causes in us are where the Light of Jesus shines through. On the bleak canvas which we smear with our failures, He paints His picture of forgiveness.

Today, I am filled with a new sense of hope – for myself, for the world that I live in. This hope comes from the promise of Jesus Christ to love us despite our sin. Advent sings with joyful celebration -“He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found!”  Are you in despair this morning? Are you discouraged – by your own sins, by the failures of a friend or family member, by the darkness of the world? Fall on your knees and look up to the Cross where the broken Savior built a bridge that connects us to our Father. Rest there!

The word from the Word for our meditation comes from the letter to the Hebrews. “The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So, let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience. God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey.” -The Message, Hebrews 4:9-12

____________________________

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen 

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Saviour
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray

 O tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

 From God our heavenly Father
A blessed angel came
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name

Fear not then said the angel
Let nothing you affright
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure virgin bright
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan’s pow’r and might 

O tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Unknown © Words: Public Domain

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