“Yet with the woes of sin and strife the world hath suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not the love song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife, And hear the angels sing.”from “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” by Edmund Sears
Woes, sin, suffering, years of wrongdoing, war, strife… it seems like I’ve been hearing more of those words than usual these past few years.
So here we are in the end of the year “holiday”. But is it possible to find rest with our spirit so weary from life around us?
Many of the original holidays were holy-days, a time to focus on the spiritual health of individuals, a community or nation. They were intended as an opportunity to put the day-to-day work on hold, in order to have time to intentionally celebrate or remember significant spiritual principles or events.
What about now? Are spiritual matters that important these days?
I think so. I believe that we live eternally as a spirit, we have a soul, and we dwell in a body.
It’s easy and natural to focus on the physical and mental parts of our lives. I think that’s because they are, for the most part, visible and tangible. The spiritual side is intangible, however. And intangible may mean hard it’s hard to grasp its significance.
It might be that our spirit just doesn’t make as much noise, so we need some inner quiet to hear it.
What brought this to my attention was really listening to the lyrics of some classic Christmas songs. In them I heard a longing for relief from the powers of evil, from guilt, and from the tendency to sin, to go astray from what is right. And I also heard words of joy and peace coming to hearts of those who had found spiritual hope or rest.
Here are a few examples:
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ’til he appear’d and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices…” (from “O Holy Night”)
“Then let us all with one accord sing praises to our heavenly Lord;
That hath made heaven and earth of naught, and with his blood mankind hath bought” (from “The First Noel”)
“Fear not then”, said the Angel, “Let nothing you affright… this day is born a savior… To free all those who trust in Him from Satan’s power and might…Oh tidings of comfort and joy!” (from “God rest ye Merry Gentlemen”)
“No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; he comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love!” (from “Joy to the World”)
We need those things: goodness, light, a savior, mercy, a feeling of worth, reconciliation, fearlessness, deliverance, blessings, truth, grace, love. And when we can’t depend on our physical or mental powers, or mankind, scientists or governments to give them to us, we need to look at the spiritual, the divine.
I know it helps me immensely to focus my mind on spiritual good news. My spiritual beliefs center on Jesus, who created this beautiful world and everything in it, is the highest authority and power, paid the sin-debt I owed, and walks with me through life. What a relief for my conscience, and peace for each day. Now that is tidings of comfort and joy!
This holiday, especially after the strain of 2020, I hope you will find a quiet time to attend to your spirit, get out in nature, talk to God, hear his voice, and respond to Him.
And I wish you a healthy and happy New Year in 2021!