By Bob Lupton Oh Holy Night – Oh Glorious Morn!
Hope – it is so much a part of us that we hardly recognize that it resides within our being. Like breathing – we’re not even aware of it until something interrupts it. Hope is there every morning when we wake. Its energy propels us into the activities of the day. “Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” reflects Alexander Pope in his Essay on Man.
So what are we to make of the oft repeated line in the favorite Christmas carol Oh Holy Night – “Long lay the world in sin and error pining”? Would songwriter Adolphe Adam have us believe that the “weary world” is languishing in despair, toiling in futility, submerged in hopelessness? Is that really the state of humanity?
How then do people in unbelievably discouraging circumstances – terminal cancer, sitting on death row, enduring grinding poverty – awaken in the morning clinging to hope? Hope somehow “springs eternal” even in the most desperate of conditions.
But where does this continuous spring of hope come from? What feeds its flame? It is more than mere optimism, more than a function of will power. What is the source of this innate desire to live life more fully, this drive to achieve?
Unlike animals, we have a soul. And that soul does not rest until we have answers. Why do we aspire? Why do we continually strive to accomplish more? Is there meaning in this hope-filled, relentless quest?
“Pining.” To yearn deeply. To long for, even painfully. There is a deep longing of the human soul to know the worth of all this striving, to know that it counts for something. The Creator, after whose image we were designed, entered the human drama to affirm that indeed our striving does have meaning. The songwriter calls this event a “Holy Night.” It was the defining night in human history when we would learn for certain that our hope is not in vain.
“The thrill of hope” is discovering that this driving force within us is the imprint of the Divine, the impulse that moves us toward becoming all that we were created to be. “Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.” God appeared in flesh to tell us that we have a divine purpose.
How good it is to awaken with the dawn to the realization that the hope which surges in our breast beckons us toward a divine purpose. How thrilling to know that the God of all creation summons us to be co-creators with Him, to be agents of shalom designed to guide history.
“The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
A glorious morn indeed!