We’ve waited the long weeks of Advent, trying to focus expectant hearts to celebrate the birth of Christ with even a modicum of the glory and reverence it deserves. We know we fall short every year, but maybe this year—Christmas in the middle of a global pandemic—is the most difficult yet.
When chaos descends upon us, our instinct is to recoil. We want to escape it, and we want to lean back into what is familiar. We want to cling to what we know because what we know is comfortable. The trouble is, in our longing for normalcy, we let go of the steadying hand of grace.
I am struck by how often I have felt what I imagine these parents felt—a paradox between the peaceful, sleeping children and the worries, concerns, and fear that come with living in a world full of really bad news.
In Romans 5, Paul tells us that the antecedent to hope is suffering, patience (perseverance), and character.
“Of the Father’s Love Begotten” ends with a shout and a whisper and a promise. First the undeniable joy of hymns and chants and high thanksgiving, a fellowship of worship that invites us all into this moment—no, this eternity—of jubilee. It’s a no holds barred, throw the doors wide, raucous celebration of the Father’s love perfected in the sacrifice of his son and fulfilled in the sanctification of his bride.
Honestly, Joy seems like too much to ask for right now. It is the most difficult of the Advent virtues: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love. It feels like an unlikely indulgence for the privileged, unconscionable in light of today’s news.