Rejoice, Weary World!

Rejoice, Weary World! December 16, 2021

Every year, I seem to become fixated with one very specific element of the Christmas season. For evidence of this, see our post from December 2020, Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum. The thoughts and permutations play in my head like so many Christmas carols.

This year, it is the one phrase, “the weary world rejoices” from O, Holy Night

It seems like zooming in on something specific helps me to comprehend the whole better. Instead of getting lost and overwhelmed in the complex, sometimes contradictory ways we think about Christmas, honing in on one element of it seems to help me make sense of the others.

 

A Weary World

Not hard to imagine why a lyric about the weary world jumps out to me. It seems like every year, we complain about how “weary” the world is. We celebrate a year passing with a middle-finger and a derogatory “good riddance”. We look forward to the new year not so much for its innate possibilities but for the possibility it won’t be as bad as last year.

Everything from politics to popular culture has a weary feel to it. Violence is on the rise. Mental illness is on the rise. We feel lonely, frustrated, and scared. Individually and collectively.

There is a great myth out there, perhaps introduced by the Enlightenment but perhaps a persistent myth throughout all of history. The myth of progress. We seem to think, or assume, we are improving. Our technology is improving. The access to opportunities are, relatively, improving.

But in many ways, the world is what it is. We fail to learn from history’s mistakes, especially the further we get from them. We hunker down in our own bias, despite evidence against it. We are ever-evolving the manifestations of our weariness, but progressing little in terms of treating it.

 

Rejoice

The great joy of Christmas is the recognition of the arrival of The Great Joy.

Our weariness is circumstantial. Which is not to say it is insignificant. It hurts. It grinds. It frustrates. All because the evidence in front of us does not match our expectations.

And so, we understandably assume that a problem of circumstance requires a circumstantial solution. History (and modernity) have tried this ad nauseum. It doesn’t work and seems to add to our weariness, compounding it year after year. Some temporary, circumstantial reprieve – like a vacation or a raise – might bring relief, but it is hardly a solution.

The message of Christ coming to earth is that the solution to our weariness is not an improved set of circumstances but a Transcendent Life, modeled and made possible by Jesus Christ.

Christmas is the advent (or perhaps the extension/the full manifestation) of hope. Something else. A better way. No longer do we have to play the games of the kingdom of this world. A new king has arrived.

A lot of the Pharisees, disciples, and – dare I say – modern believers expect that the Messiah is going to win the game of this world, perfecting its systems and climbing its heights. What the presence of Jesus announces is that there is another game, a much more important one. That joy is not in receiving the desires of your flesh but in realizing the desires of your heart. 

He is joy in hope. Joy in love. Joy in affliction. Even joy in weariness. The great paradox. As hard as it is to understand, to believe, or to know what to do with, the coming of The King of Glory is a joy that transcends everything else (even death). 

And for that, this weary world may rejoice.

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