I love this season of the year for so many reasons, but in the top 5 of those reasons is the music! I love the Christmas carols, and some of the most moving and inspiring worship songs were born in and are centered around this season. In particular, I love “O Holy Night” ~ it always reaches in and touches the very core of me, uplifting my heart and soul and calling me to praise the Lord our God for His great and unending gift to us!
“O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
(“O Holy Night” Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure 1847)
Beautiful lyrics that summarize the Gospel, set to lyrical music that sends the soul soaring!
Yet the lyrics go beyond what is beautiful; they also go to what is heavy, and hard ~
“Chains He shall break, for the slave is our brother.”
At one point as I sang this song last year, the Lord reminded me that “For the slave is our brother” are words not just about the slavery back in the 1800s. The words are about our here and now as well. Human trafficking ~ the name we’ve given horrific slavery today ~ is alive and well throughout the world here and now. It’s alive and well in our country, in your state and mine, in your county and mine, in your city and mine. Here is a link to the work my church denomination is doing against this hideous evil.
Please take some time in this beginning of the Christmas season to find out what work your church group or denomination is doing and prayerfully consider supporting that effort as the Lord leads you!
Human trafficking isn’t the only slavery thriving in our society, as we all well know. So, the words here are also about every sin ~ physical or otherwise ~ that enslaves. It’s about addiction of every kind ~ be it drugs, food, sex, leisure, and everything in between. It’s about the abused, who are so often prisoners and slaves still long after the abuse. It’s about abortion, which enslaves the heart of the mother to regret, shame, and grieving. It’s about self-righteousness, which enslaves our brother or sister to the limits of their own resources and so the repetitive cycle of self-failure, and the subsequent, secret self-condemnation. It’s secret because in self-righteousness and works-based religion, one cannot admit to failure and one must maintain the hypocritical illusion that all is well ~ so there is no hope, no grace, only endless effort ~ slavery.
Luke 4 tells us that Jesus, in the beginning of His public ministry, shared this in His hometown. He read:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins,
They will raise up the former devastations;
And they will repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
“Chains shall He break~” and they are broken and by His wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53: 5) The shed blood of Christ Jesus covers all sin ~ our past sin, our present sin, and our future sin, for all of our sin was future sin when Jesus died on the cross. His blood, the sacrificial blood of the Lamb, breaks all chains ~ and why should it not, it is the very blood of God Almighty! What earthly thing can stand against it?
He said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
If you’re not free ~ if you’re enslaved in any form or fashion ~ let this Advent season be the advent of freedom for you! Immanuel ~ God with us ~ will not fail you!
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
Let Him bring healing and freedom to you! Ask the Lord to help you keep your eyes on Christ Jesus, who is our hope… (1 Timothy 1:1)
It doesn’t matter if you feel you can’t walk the road of freedom and/or healing, or fear that you will stumble and fall for ~ A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out… (Matthew 12:20)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Roman 8:1) so in and through Him let war be waged on the lies of condemnation!
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Freedom and healing isn’t accomplished by our “strength” and abilities, but His ~ I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise. (Jeremiah 17:14)
So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)
May the advent of Immanuel ~ God with us ~ Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior bring you a powerful advent of freedom and healing!