Sing A Song Of Hope And Joy Today!
It is the dead, dark time of winter. Here in the Northwest, we have been under gray clouds, pounding rains, and heavy winds for weeks, it seems. Even the daylight hours of these shortest days of the year have been dark and dreary. But this morning, the sun has returned. We are surprised by the joy of it. The skies above are brilliantly blue and I can hear a cheeriness in the voices of people walking by my window. There is a lightness to their steps. And so it is for all Christian believers during these Christmastide days.
Today’s psalm, Psalm 98, is full of joy. It represents the sudden and overwhelming realization that God truly is faithful, that he keeps his promises to us. As Christians, we know that the birth of Christ is the fulfillment of the ancient promise from the Father that he would send us a Messiah, one who would ransom us from the slavery of sin and death. Each year the celebration of Christ’s birth sends our hearts soaring. We, too, sing new songs to the Lord. They are songs of wonder and thanksgiving, songs full of hope. We are overwhelmed again with the realization of God’s love for us represented by this child, this promised Messiah, who has come among us to show us the way back to our natural home with God.
As I look out my window this morning the sun’s brightness is stunning. It makes the green of the grass seem greener, and the great pine trees on the hill above me stand stark still against a brilliant blue sky. The winds and the rains of the last few days are forgotten. I can see the mountains for the first time in days and they are mantled in new white snow that seems even more white against the blue backdrop of sky. The psalmist’s words, “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God,” seep deeper into my yearning soul this morning. Jesus is the sun that has brightened the darkness of the world. It is his light that has shown upon us, and like all the ends of the earth we, too, “Shout for joy to the Lord.” We, too, burst into jubilant song.” (verse 4) For we know, in the light of our faith, that the Lord has come and, “he will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.” (verse 9)
The birth of Jesus, which we have just celebrated, is the realization of “the tender compassion of our God.” We know that Jesus is the “dawn from on high that has broken upon us to shine on those who have dwelt in darkness and the shadow of death.” We know that it is he who has come, “to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79) It is right and proper, then, that our hearts be filled with joy.
Lord, help us always to take joy in the beauties of the world and in the unspeakable wonder of each human being. May the light of Jesus brighten our minds, our hearts and our souls with the joy of your infinite love for us. Let our joy in your salvation be so profound that we share it generously and without expecting anything in return. In this way we will be your good and faithful disciples, joyously serving all who suffer in this too often darkened world. Give us the grace to love all others in this joyful spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
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