As we slip into Christmas Carol Concerts and the wild holy wonder of the season, I want to consider the comfort and joy it can bring to our hearts. As we step with faith into December let’s listen and linger over ancient poetry and bible truths. As William Chatterton Dix writes in his hymn, As with gladness men of old.*
‘So most gracious Lord may we, evermore be led to Thee’.
The easily remembered tunes of carols are being sung and performed in various ways. O come, O come Emmanuel.
Our absolute longing and need for belonging in life when grief, confusion and uncertainty face us is found right there in the song, ever more be led to Thee. A place of knowing comfort and joy in the midst of it all.
The words, comfort and joy, came to me as somewhat of a paradox. In the life of faith we learn to embrace this, but let’s explore its meaning a little as we look at the Carol and muse over the ownership in our life of comfort and joy, in our expedition of living life well. The Christmas Carol below has been sung since the 16th Century –
God rest you merry, Gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ our Saviour was born upon this Day.
To save poor souls from Satan’s power,
Which long time had gone astray.
Which brings tidings of comfort and joy
The words came to me, I breathe in and hear the melody clearly, comfort and joy!
There is almost a contrast to them. The very need for comfort when you have joy seems a little unusual! The ordinary yet supernatural story of Jesus is offered to us in kindness. Noting the need for redemption. A bringer of comfort and and filler of joy.
The angels sang it, Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.
Faith whispers there is a need and that need is met in Jesus. Comfort is promised in the Holy Spirit who comes to be our counsellor.
Joy unspeakable, an ecstatic joy which is the deposit inside us, the kingdom of heaven on earth. You are saturated with an ecstatic joy, indescribable sublime and immersed in glory.
To be comforted in grief and to be imparted a joy sublime speaks of a deeper identity carved out in eternity. Salvation birthed itself in humility and then offers us hope as we live out our lives. Forgiveness forges the healing that no matter what, we know the absolute truth of mercy triumphing over judgement .
Salvation births itself in humility.
Let me share the words of Dr. Martin Loyd-Jones,
– we are called out of this present evil world, we have been purchased with the shed blood of the only begotten of the Son of God on a cross on Calvarys hill, not only to be forgivien to be delivered from sin and iniquity that He may purify us unto Himself. Furthermore he writes, whenever perplexity arises or anything that shakes you, take it and put it in the light of that.
Comfort and Joy
The glitter and sparkle fade into Januarys mist, may we then hold the constant comfort and joy, that which overflows past the presents into the next season and the next. An immovable promise and feast of joy. A Christmas story that comes close and births itself in humility, offering comfort and joy because we have our identity in the revelation of who he is.
I love these words written by Enuma Okoro in her advent devotional book,
Silence and other surprising invitations of advent.
The words echo adventure and expectancy. The comfort and joy of growing in a kingdom of hope. We are not alone but there is a joy to share.
It is time to dream, stretch the canvas of our imagination writes Enuma. To find God’s vision in our days ahead.
May we indeed, ‘stretch the canvas of our imagination’ inspired by the season of comfort and joy and into 2019.
Sing then, Tidings of Comfort and Joy, to yourself and your friends this season.
Christmas Love to you
*(based on the magi in the nativity of Jesus)