Christmas is my favorite.
I don't even apologize for how over-the-top I am about it. I could be any of the crazy holiday characters on any of the Christmas movies. I decorate early. I buy gifts until the budget is a distant memory. I bake treats. I watch dozens of Hallmark movies. I play music on repeat, and I cry while I listen.
Yes, you read that right. Christmas music makes me cry.
The other night in the car, I was sniffling over a song, and my husband indulgently smiled at me. "It's that good, huh?" he asked, because he knows me and my propensity to weep over yuletide carols.
And it was that good, this thing that jumped out at me from a song I have heard a million times.
I heard a word. A word I've said, and sung, and known for most of my life. But it resonated differently with me this time. I heard it, and ALL that it implied...and I was overcome with the fullness of meaning.
"The weary world rejoices..."
That's the line from the song. And all I heard was "WEARY."
How well I know this word. I suppose its not one that is used a lot these days. We say "tired," "beat," "fried," even "exhausted," but it means the same thing.
Worn to the bone, emotionally. Physically fatigued from the strain of LIFE. Weary...
I've always seen certain weariness in my mental pictures of the Christmas story. The wise men had traveled so far. They must've been tired. The low-class, low-income shepherds had to sleep in the fields, and they were definitely feeling the burdens of their lot in life. Joseph and Mary had been treated unkindly for so many months, holding tightly to a promise only they believed, bearing the weight of all that people thought of them...and I can SEE their shoulders hunched under it. Not to mention their journey to Bethlehem, and how draining that would've been on Mary's body, and Joseph's peace of mind.
It's there, in their faces, in their stories. In ours.
But then. An angel. A star. A heavenly choir.
"Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth..."
Permit me, if you will, to adjust a few punctuation points in this passage in Luke. Allow me to type it for you the way the Holy Spirit highlighted it for me.
"Glory to God, in the highest. Peace, on earth."
It's possible that adding commas changes nothing in the way you read this. But it changed everything for me. In case you, like my children, need additional information...here is how I see this passage now.
"Glory to God, Who is on high, and Peace is on the earth."
Peace. Capitalized. God is in heaven. Peace is on earth.
And the weary world rejoices.
The world. The earth. Creation itself. Sighing out..."finally..." All those thousands of years since the garden, since sin entered, the world had been bearing the weight of the darkness. Atoned for with the blood of bulls and lambs...but never taken away. The burden of it all...it weighed on the very world. And not only that, but there had been no reminder that God had not forgotten them...not in 400 years.
So. Much. Weariness.
Not "There will be peace on you all now."
NO. PEACE IS NOW ON THE EARTH.
And creation burst forth in song, angels lighting the sky, a new star guiding the Gentiles, a baby wailing in absolute perfection.
The dawn of Salvation.
The weary world rejoices.
Oh, how it changes me, this new understanding.
Because Love broke the silence. Heaven sent Peace. And when you know the whole story...it makes the beginning so much sweeter.
I picture that crinkled little face, hungry and cold and trembling, breathing in physical air for the first time...
Peace. On the earth. Breaking the silence. Fulfilling the plan. Hope on the horizon. For a moment all there is...is the beauty.
More to come. Misunderstanding. Veiled meanings. So much waiting. So many miracles. So much pain. Death. Confusion. Hopes dashed. Peace. Gone from the earth. Darkness settling down again. An earthquake. A grave. A stone.
Another earthquake. More angels. The grave overturned. Death...swallowed up by victory.
It's all there, in His crinkled little face, in the manger, surrounded by faces. Faces once weary. Faces now aglow.
My face is there. And yours.
Let His face, and all that it means, take root in your heart.
And rejoice, weary one. His tiny, perfect, little baby shoulders, tearing into the world with all of the pain of the physical...are able to bear your weariness, and mine. That's why He came.
Every time we feel it again...I pray that we will hear Peace whispering to our hearts, "I'm here."
"Jesus said to them, "Don't be afraid. Take courage. I am here." Matthew 14:27