A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Winter often brings with it an overburdening sense of weariness. This might not be true of all winters, but I’m referring specifically to the excruciatingly moderate winters we have here in the Northwest. No soft blankets of snow season-round, but no sunny warmth, either—our winters in Seattle are smack dab in the murky middle. The dead-gray, overcast sky enters the stage in November and doesn’t seem to like to take its exit until late April (and even then it digs its heels in). It gets pitch dark close to 4 pm. And with all the dreary weather comes a foreboding sense that this chilly greyness won’t ever brighten.
While it can bring a sadness of its own, winter itself is also a pretty good picture of human despair. And I think that’s the reason we resonate with the grey, sunless sky-- it reflects the lowness of our spirits. Life is troublesome, slow, and difficult. We struggle to be joyful. Anxiety is our constant companion. We strain our eyes to find a break in the clouds and see nothing.
Yet, it’s during this bleak backdrop of winter that Christmas comes. When we’ve made it through November and most of December, just when we think we just can’t take any more, there’s turkey, and family, and strings of frosted lights—there’s feasting, giving and receiving, Grandma’s pies, naps on the couch, and It’s a Wonderful Life playing on PBS. There are full stockings and shouts of unbridled glee from wide-eyed toddlers. At the end of a dark December comes warmth, closeness, and rest.
And just like that, God came: like a Christmas Day in the middle of a Northwest winter. When the outlook for humanity was grim, when we were still far off, when our hearts were buried in despair, God came. He wrote himself into the story not as a triumphant king but as a naked, weak, and lowly child, to bear our troubles and redeem. Emmanuel, God with us. The clouds broke.
God with us. A thrill of hope. And to the weary world, he says, rejoice! I bring warmth, and closeness, and rest.
Merry Christmas Day.