A friend posted these lyrics on facebook the other day, from “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” and I can’t get them out of my head.
O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing
O ye beneath life’s crushing load… come swiftly on the wing. Oh rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing.
That is the invitation of the gospel. The invitation of Jesus to you – to rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing. They rejoiced when He was born, and they rejoice over every person who says ‘yes’ to Jesus. (Luke 15)
Sometimes at Christmas, we tend to try to make joy. Create happiness.
If I craft enough snowflakes, bake enough cookies, wrap enough presents…
If I find just the right gift, just the right dress, just the right card…
Let’s just put it all down and rest beside the weary road to performance. The weary road of trying and buying and making it all happen. You can rest now.
I love the verse that says, “Come to me, you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”
Not the semi-still-exhausted rest that we get at the end of the day when we solved some problems, had some good meetings, or checked some boxes.
It’s a deeper rest – a rest for your soul. The rest that comes when we finally say, “Ok, I’m done trying now.” The peaceful rest that comes from letting go. From choosing to just receive God’s grace to us instead of trying to make it ourselves. There is no doing here. Just believing. Believing that somehow it could be possible. That God could love you so much, He would make a way for you to know Him and experience real, lasting love and peace and joy. We throw those words around this time of year and yet so many of us have this deep inner unrest. A tense unsettling inside that is the exact opposite of all those cheery greeting cards we send and receive.
When the angel appeared to Mary and told her she would miraculously conceive a son, name him Jesus, and He would be God, she said, “How will this be?” You can almost hear her tone – like she thought, “okay maybe, I mean seeing as how you’re an angel and all. But, um, one problem. I know how this works, and well, to put it frankly, I’m a virgin…”
The angel’s response? “Nothing is impossible with God.”
I think this interaction almost sums up the whole Bible: God chooses to do something amazing through a nobody. Someone lowly, least, & unlikely. Loser, or average at best, by anyone’s standards. That person believes that somehow it could be possible. So he/she says, ‘yes.’ And God accomplishes the miraculous. Flood foraged. People chosen. Sea parted. Giant slain. Sin defeated. Death defied. Church birthed. Gospel preached. And it all centered around a man. Born, as a baby, to an unwed teenager. Impossible becoming possible, event after event, century after century.
And here we are, over 2,000 years later, still celebrating that very event… “a story that endures despite all the tinsel and glitter,” as I heard it put the other day.
And as we celebrate, we think, “I can make it. I can do it. I can be enough.”
But if you get quiet enough and turn off all the music and noise, you can just hear it in the distance. The call to stop doing and making and trying, and start simply receiving grace. The call to a faith you once thought impossible. The call to rest beside the weary road, see the infant King in the manger, and hear the angels sing.
Merry Christmas, friends. Praying you find true rest & everlasting joy.