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The weary world rejoices: Christmas greetings from LCC’s President

December 17, 2013 2 Comments

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by Robert Bugbee

The Christmas carol “O Holy Night” includes a line that goes like this: “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.”

There’s plenty to be weary of these days. The simple weariness you feel in your body after working long days without much let-up can be relieved, I guess, with a good night or two of sleep. It’s harder to shake if your weariness runs deeper.  If you’re weary because a child or friend has grown away from you, because your efforts to bridge the gap have failed, and because you’ve been through the arguments in your head a hundred times so that they go round and round and never fix anything, that’s a weariness much tougher to cure.

If you feel as though you don’t fit where you live or where you work—if you want to find the way to contentment, but don’t really know how—, then weariness can grip and pinch.

If you feel as though you don’t fit where you live or where you work—if you want to find the way to contentment, but don’t really know how—, then weariness can grip and pinch. If the world around you keeps buzzing with its gadgets, unbeatable Black Friday sales and loyalty programs (each with a computer password you dare not forget!), but leaves you dizzy because it hasn’t filled your need to find peace with yourself and with the God Who made you, that’s an empty brand of weariness which doesn’t let go.

“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices.” The old carol is talking about Christmas, of course, but not so much the day on the calendar or the customs people attach to it. It’s talking about Bethlehem’s Christ Child taking His place on the straw far from home. It’s announcing the hope that is not just a “think positive” feeling you decided to launch, a feeling that pops like a balloon the next minute when something else goes wrong. It’s announcing the hope Christ brought with Him to earth from heaven, the hope He won by everything He said and did during His years in this world, the hope He bought with His own blood when He died in your place and as your personal Rescuer.

“The weary world rejoices.” The little Christ doesn’t have much to give to the self-assured world, the world that thinks it can find real life if you just buy enough, travel enough, renovate enough, or think positively enough. “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost,” said Jesus. The ones weary from their problems, lost because of their own sins and failures, worn out by the shallow cures constantly being offered on every side—these are the people He knows how to work with. He says it just that clearly, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, I will give you rest.” This invitation has your name on it.

The little Christ doesn’t have much to give to the self-assured world, the world that thinks it can find real life if you just buy enough, travel enough, renovate enough, or think positively enough. The ones weary from their problems, lost because of their own sins and failures, worn out by the shallow cures constantly being offered on every side—these are the people He knows how to work with.

The self-satisfied world won’t take much of an interest in Him this season. It will keep busy constructing its own “Christmas spirit,” the kind of thing that fades fast once holiday guests have returned home and decorations are taken down at the mall. But, as the old Anglican bishop Phillips Brooks wrote in another famous carol, “Where meek souls will receive Him, still the dear Christ enters in.” In other words, “The weary world rejoices.”

I have been part of that weary world myself, thanks to my own sins, shortcomings, and foolish choices to give too much attention to the buzzing going on all around. I should not be a bit surprised if you, dear reader of these lines, told me you are part of it, too.

Get ready to rejoice with me! The Lord’s “Christmas spirit” is all about Jesus entering in to rescue weak and weary people who know full well that this is exactly what we are! The Lord’s “Christmas spirit” is about coming with all your weakness and failure to the One Who is here to set you free.

The weary world rejoices! So it’s not some advertised, tinseled world, but the real world with all its weariness, troubles, and defects that rejoices with great joy when it finds its way to Jesus. Strange as this may sound, I wish for you such weariness and such joy as Christmas comes again. And I wish for all our pastors and people that our church families across the land—through their preaching and their love—may be the sort of place where the weary world rejoices. A happy, holy Christmas to one and all!

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Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee is President of Lutheran Church–Canada.