FEATURE STORY

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I think the sadness of after-Christmas is because all the lights are gone.  The roof-lined twinkles down the street, the Christmas trees in our own family rooms, and all the colors of the season are just dark all at once…when January rolls around.  I absolutely love the lights the most.  We had them on our tree, across the mantel, on the porch and everywhere we could fit in a candle, a battery operated scene, or whatever!  The light, in my opinion, fills us all with the hope of the season! 

I was thinking about this and remembered the lyrics from Oh Holy Night where it says this…

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
'Til He appears and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

I don’t know of a more fitting song to sing in this New Year than the lines of this one, even though Christmas is past.  And I don’t know of a more weary world than ours, right now!  But the hope present in these lyrics is a real hope, a tangible one…that “new and glorious morn.”

photo courtesty of Doug Gephardt

Many of us don’t see 2021 as new and glorious.  And with all the lights turned off and taken down and put away now, January often seems gloomy, dark and cold.  There is hope of a vaccine, but who knows when and how it will work.  There are glimmers of hope for businesses to begin again and rebuild, but debts are high and seem insurmountable.  And there is hope that this virus will disappear altogether and life will return to “normal,” whatever that might look like.  But will it, and do we want it to?

After Christmas, I often put out snow-themed items and try to keep some light going, along with smiles and hope.  It brightens my own corner, and I’m wondering what you will do to keep the lights on this New Year?  It could be something practical like keeping lights up and plugged in.  It could be more personal and deep, like telling your downcast soul to put its hope in God.  That directive will turn on a light for sure.  It might look like purposing to reach out again, in creative ways, to friends and family that went “dark” during last year with social distancing and fear.

I know, as Christians, we have this eternal hope of life to come after death.  But what about the thrill of hope after 2020?  What about taking our weary world and infusing a bit of rejoicing in it?  These lyrics say that this happens when He appears and souls feel their worth, again.

Our souls are weary.  Our world is sin-struck. And many of us are pining.  And the fact that all the twinkles and brights and stars are taken down and put away doesn’t help us with hope.  It dashes our hopes.  It’s why we put our lights up early last fall.  We all needed the hope of light.

Jesus is the light.  He’s the thrill of hope.  But many of us have barely hung on with our vision of him as hope, yes.  But a thrill?  No.  We’ve lost that. 

As I put away the twinklies and set out the snowmen, I smile at the hope of a possible snowfall this winter.  I hope for it every year, and I actually get a thrill out of watching the forecast, staying up if there’s a slight chance, and hoping for that white stuff that rarely comes to Central Texas.  And when it does, I’m super thrilled!

Where does your hope lie, this January?  And what thrills your soul?  As you put away your lights, don’t let your house and your soul stay dark.  Don’t let your weary soul quit singing.  And by all means, start looking for the glorious morning each every day when the sun rises bright in the sky every single 24 hours…reminding us of the thrill of another day with the Light that never goes dark.

The Thrill of Hope
by Marcy Lytle

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