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Christmas is over…and We can still sing

This past Sunday I slung my six-string around my neck and as our call to worship concluded I began hammering out the prelude to one of the most well-known, oft-sung Christmas carols. Hundreds of voices merged with my own to declare the spectacular reality: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”

Sixty hours removed from that moment, I now sit in the home of my mother-in-law, a small fire crackling beneath the stockinged hearth, the lights on the tree still twinkling, as toys and wrapping paper litter the floor. The songs have been played. The cookies have been eaten. Christmas is over.

Most who know me understand that I adore Christmas. Everything about the holiday thrills my soul. And I’ll admit, like millions of Americans, I turn a bit blue when the 25th of December comes and goes. So, this dejected pastor needs the hope-filled reminder that Christmas may be over, but we can still sing.

The hymns of Isaac Watts have been celebrated within Christianity over the past two centuries, but such was not the case in his lifetime. In the early 18th century the songs heralded under steeples of England were typically straight from the Psalms. In an effort to jog minds and stir souls, Watts wrote theologically profound lyrics that bore the ire of churchmen but garnered the appreciation of commoners. One of these famed hymns was the anthem quoted above: “Joy to the World.” Though we often and only sing this song during the season of Advent, the tune was actually written to announce and celebrate not the first coming of the Child but rather the second coming of the Conqueror.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the third stanza in which Watts declares:

No more let sin or sorrow grow, nor thorns infest their ground

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found

Far as, far as the curse is found.

Flip on a TV, surf the net, or meander out into society and you will readily see that in spite of Christ’s first advent, sin still abounds, sorrows flourish, and brokenness flares in full display. But at His second coming, which we await with eager anticipation, all sorrow will cease, sin will be swallowed up, and the blessings of the Lion will flow unfettered throughout the earth. This is an incredible hope for us, the church. One day the God-man, who laid in a trough as an infant and hung on a tree to die, will return to shatter the bands of sin and showcase to all the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.

Christmas is over; but the church can (and should) still sing: “Joy to the world the Lord is come!” His promise is so sure that even though we exist in this moment shrouded by the effects of sin it is as if His word has already been accomplished and He has already come.

Can we still belt this carol at Christmas? Absolutely. The second coming is only possible through the first. But our joy does not end with the passing of a holiday for a day is coming that will end all days and usher in eternal Christmas. So, come, Lord Jesus.

Semper Reformanda.

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