It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old, from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold: peace on the earth, good will to men from heaven’s all-gracious king. The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.
Written in the mid-nineteenth century by a Unitarian pastor in Massachusetts, this carol has remained a Christmas staple even one hundred and seventy years later. While most people are familiar with the first verse or two that focus on the beauty of the song the angels sing, it is the final verses that speak more to the song’s content and God’s true message.
For what if God’s message goes deeper than the surface of “good news of great joy,” as important as that is? Think of how desperately our weary world needs to hear something more than just good news. We need something real. Something to hold onto. Something that understands the depths of mess in which many of us find ourselves.
Perhaps: all ye, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low, who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow, look now for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing. O rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing.
What if that message isn’t just for those who have their act together, but instead for the majority of us who really, really don’t?
The actual good news: the Christmas message was never for the perfect. It was for all the people who are broken. Hurting. Crushed. Overwhelmed. Uncertain. Impoverished. Oppressed. Lost. Forgotten. Anxious. Outcast. Or anything else that might seem less then. You are precisely who the good news is for.
Come. Find rest. Find welcome. Find home. And then, the next step into the new day, well that is up to you.