by Bishop Todd Hunter
“Oh Holy Night…A Weary World Rejoices…”
In what world do the weary “rejoice”? If ever there was syrupy religious rhetoric, that might be a classic example. At least, I could easily forgive someone for thinking so.
We intuitively expect that the lonely don’t rejoice, they despair. The poor don’t rejoice, they ache with longing. The grieving don’t rejoice, they just hurt all over. The disenfranchised don’t rejoice, they feel the pain of exclusion.
So, exactly what world is it in which the weary rejoice? In a world in which he appeared. That is the way in which the soul felt its worth. The least, the last, the left out and the marginalized are made whole, fundamentally by the appearing of God to them, assuring them of their worth in their individual pain. This is true. But more needs to be said.
I have long loved a quote from Miroslav Volf: No church without the reign of God…but no reign of God without the church. It is true that in the incarnation of Jesus, yonder breaks a new glorious morn. But that inbreaking requires a response—the response of servants who fall on [their] knees, who worship God not least in the caring for others.
The world in which the weary rejoice is the world in which the Church is an agent of healing, of restoration, of deliverance. This is a three-way gift: 1) It is a gift to God in that he rejoices to see his children partner with him. 2) It is a gift to others who feel our alongside-ness with them as ambassadors of God’s reign. 3) And it is a big Christmas gift to us as it allows us to be human in the way God intended.
Merry Christmas to you—especially in any weariness you feel—and most especially as you can be an agent of love and healing in and for our weary world.