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December 2, 2020

The Weary World Rejoices

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I recently saw that Chuck and Katie Fowler, Co-Lead Pastors at Corona Presbyterian Church outside of Denver, entitled their Advent series “The Weary World Rejoices”. I have since seen that a few other churches have used this line from “O Holy Night” as their Advent theme. What a great line that perfectly captures the reality that we find ourselves in particularly during this Advent season. 

Our world is weary. A quick search in a thesaurus reveals the highest correlated synonyms for weary as: bored, disgusted, exhausted, fatigued, impatient, jaded, overworked, and sleepy.  I can say that I have felt all of those words at various times in this year. I find it interesting, yet accurate, that both bored and overworked are synonyms of weary. There are times where I have found both to be appropriate descriptions simultaneously.  I also find all words to be appropriate descriptors of how churches, pastors and leaders have been feeling this year.  As I said back in October during Pastor Appreciation Month, pastors are working harder and in areas outside of their training. At the same time, there is not the same joy that is received from the interpersonal interaction. Compounded with the level of anxiety that is present in our culture, many find themselves in a no-win situation.  

Recently, I was meeting (outside and distanced) with a local pastors prayer group in my city.  I was sharing some of my weariness and I said, “I don’t know why I am weary. Normally I am on the road 100+ days a year and it has been nice to have more time with family. But I still feel weary.”  One of the pastors who knows me pretty well said, “Dana, I can’t imagine that your ministry cup gets satisfied with doing trainings over zoom.  I have watched you teach and preach “live” and I know the way it energizes you.”  It was nice to have an outside voice be able to validate what I was experiencing.  

Jesus was born into a weary time. It seemed like God had been silent or inactive for centuries. The people had wondered if the promises from the Scriptures were ever going to be fulfilled. Was God disappointed and angry with his people? Was he going to renege on his promises?  Was their life under Roman rule an inevitable reality for generations?

And then Jesus entered the darkness and the messiness of our human existence. And while the weary world does indeed rejoice, it wasn’t as if things got immediately better. Things were still messy. In fact, some things got worse.  Think about Herod’s edict of the slaughtering of innocent children, for example. Yet the world rejoices because there is a reality beyond the physical conditions we experience. 

The rejoicing for our world now isn’t when the vaccine comes. In fact when the vaccine comes I imagine there will be a distribution challenge that may fall into racial and socio-economic lines which will further stir up tensions in this country.  Our rejoicing comes in the promise of new and abundant life in Jesus Christ, not instead of the messiness of our world, but in spite of it.  

I tend to be more of an optimist, so I have two things I am hoping to see happen in this Advent season.  First, I pray that we would anchor ourselves more firmly in Jesus Christ.  Perhaps because of our weariness we are ready to hear and respond in new and fresh ways to the message and invitation of Jesus.  May this season in our churches bring renewed hope to believers who are weary! Second, I pray that the world would be more open to hearing the Good News and rejoice in Jesus. Usually in good times there are so many distractions that people are not aware of their need for a Savior.  But perhaps because the world is more weary than normal, there may be new receptivity to the inbreaking of the kingdom of God in the lives of those whom we encounter. We are weary, but we have a Savior who understands and has experienced deep weariness Himself. May you rely solely on Jesus during Advent and may He meet you exactly where you are, bringing you the hope, peace, love and joy that can only come from Him. 

In Christ, Dana

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