The Weary World Rejoices–Christmas Eve 2022
Don’t you think that an apt line for this Christmas Eve comes from O Holy Night, where it talks about a weary world? Aren’t we weary?
• Maybe you are weary from getting ready for Christmas or
• Weary from sadness or hearing of more rounds of covid and flu.
• Weary of headlines about Twitter and laptops, mass killings, racism, and a government that won’t collaborate enough to get the important stuff done.
• Weary of the enormous divisions within society
• Weary of Zoom, robocalls, and fruitless calls to customer service departments.
Not only are we weary, but we are also growing wary. Wary of institutions and each other. Wondering who we can trust. What are sources of information reliable?
And yet, as the song says, a weary world rejoices tonight. How can a weary world rejoice?
Because we have help. Emmanuel. God is with us. We don’t go it alone. The birth of Christ reminds us that God is active in this weary world, working to make things better. Working to sustain us, to be present with us no matter what this wacky, weary world throws our way.
We rejoice because God is on the side of the weary and disenfranchised
We can rejoice because the Christmas story reminds us that no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you have a safe place in God’s purpose to make the world more user-friendly and less wearisome.
Consider how the angels came to the weary shepherds at night. Shepherds occupied the lowest rung on the social ladder. Children never dreamed of growing up and being a shepherd. People thought of them as nasty, smelly reprobates. Yet, angels came to them and issued them (not the hoity-toity) VIP invites to the most important event in the history of the world. And as we sing in O Holy Night, their souls felt their worth.
Christmas reveals God’s heart for all who feel marginalized, told they don’t measure up, demonized because of their poverty, made fun of, or discounted. Christmas is for those who are left out. The good news of great joy is that people who feel like they are on the fringes and have no place are located at the center of God’s heart.
Maybe the Spirit led you here tonight so you can hear the message: You matter. Just as you are. You are treasured no matter what you are going through, what lies behind you, or what anyone says. May your soul feel its worth—your worth to God, your worth to me, to people in this church. No matter what. We rejoice because our lives mean something to someone.
We are given a savior
The weary wary world can rejoice because we are given a savior. Whatever else it means, having a savior means:
• We don’t have to be shackled by shame and regret because there is forgiveness.
• We are saved from the need to throw pity parties because we are so blessed.
• We are saved from turning in on ourselves, living selfishly and shallowly.
• We are saved from not having a moral compass or a sense of purpose.
We rejoice because unto us a child is born, a savior is given.
Christ Inspires Helpers
The weary world rejoices because there are helpers. Christmas brings out that sense of helping others, being kind, and being more patient with each other. The message of peace and goodwill motivates people worldwide to rise above their basest inclinations and look for common ground, to listen deeply to people with different perspectives so that we can find something to love in them. You will find something to love when you listen deeply to anyone’s story long enough.
The world rejoices because people are inspired to care for others. As a church, we try to live this out. Just ask any of the families in need that we helped this Christmas through our Christmas families’ project. Especially the family with a 7-year-old and 8-month-old living in a car after their place burned down.
Look at how people reach out and care for each other whenever there is a need—whether it is a death in the family or illness. We see it in all the partnerships that help others as we open ourselves to the community. We have so many 12-step groups. Art groups, youth ministries, forums, and groups make a huge impact on our community and you are part of making things better.
As weary as the world gets, the basic message of Christ still inspires people to do their best. A newer member talked about going to Bay Shore because he feels it makes him a better person. Slower to judge and quicker to look for the humanity of someone. The weary world can rejoice because there are people like that all around you who care deeply and they are willing to act on those cares.
Bridge over Troubled Water
Ruminating on the word weary, I keep thinking about Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. You remember. When you’re weary, feeling small….
Paul Simon wrote it, and Art Garfunkel magnified it with transcendent vocals. I read that Paul Simon thought of it a hymn. Looking for song-writing inspiration, he listened to a lot of gospel music. When he heard the spiritual, Oh Mary Don’t You Weep, one line rang out to him. It says, “I’ll be your bridge over deep water/If you trust in my name.” That was the catalyst for Bridge Over Troubled Water and the gospel elements in the song.
I heard someone say as a spiritual practice, he likes to imagine Jesus holding him, singing Bridge Over Troubled Water to him, as a promise. Maybe as I read the words, you can close your eyes and imagine the Spirit saying this to you, too.
When you’re weary
When tears are in your eyes
I’ll dry them all
I’m on your side
Oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
We can rejoice because that is Jesus’ promise to us.
Hide and Seek
When I think of rejoicing and pure joy, I’m brought back to playing hide and seek with my grandson because of how he squealed with delight at the moment of discovery. It didn’t matter if he was the seeker or the finder, the moment when one finds the other was the source of such joy that he burst into laughter as if it was the greatest thing on earth.
A weary world needs laughter and joy.
Christmas is God’s way of hiding in plain sight, God hoping to be found. Not in heaven away from us, but in flesh and blood. The great Christmas laugh is that God’s power doesn’t come in some showy or triumphant way, but in diapers, in someone vulnerable, in love’s pure light.
Christmas reminds us that God is hiding in the here and now, wanting to be found.
Found in the people around us and the helpers, the people who care. Found in the people in need. There is such delight and cause for rejoicing when you see it.
Maybe you’ve been hiding from God by hiding from your best impulses, dreams, and desires. Or letting fear rule you. May this Christmas be the one where you take delight in the knowledge that God has found you, celebrates you, validates your soul’s worth, and holds you up like a bridge over troubled water. Amen
You might just whisper this prayer, quietly under your breath.
Jesus, at times I feel lost.
At times afraid.
Come find me.
Hold me close.
Dry my tears. Save me.
Be my bridge over troubled water.
I am yours.
You give me reason to rejoice despite my weariness.
Thank you for loving me. Amen.