Alright, I have a confession to make. Don’t tell anyone, but for the last week I have found myself humming a Christmas song. I know, I can hear your gasps from here.
“But Sarah, it’s only April!”
“It’s EASTER…you’re in the wrong section of the hymnal!”
“Christmas songs before Thanksgiving, that’s an abomination!”
I know and yet I can’t seem to get Joy to the World (by Isaac Watts) out of my head. More specifically, I can’t get verse three out of my head.
There is something about proclaiming joy “far as the curse is found” that is nourishing my soul right now. The evidence of “the curse” has pressed in upon us this year in ways that weren’t escapable. The reality of the frailty of nature (revealed by the wildfires and continued threats of global warming), the frailty of our bodies and communities (as revealed by the pandemic), the frailty of our own minds (as we are confronted with our own anxieties in the isolation of this year) and the seemingly indomitable reality of empire brutalizing the most vulnerable amongst us despite their bearing the image of God. I have felt stuck in a perpetual Lent, where I am tempted to lock myself away in an upper room, thinking there is no joy left to be found.
And yet, as the faithful who came before us have witnessed, the risen Christ somehow appears behind locked doors and turns the world upside down. So here I am, in April, singing Joy to the World! Joy…in this world? This isn’t the shallow happiness of those who ignore the pain of the world. The songwriter acknowledges that there is a curse that is present and pervasive. The antidote is not to stick our heads in the ground or try to escape this reality but rather to confront it head on with the truth of a deeper, penultimate reality, “the Saviour reigns!” Let us “prepare Him room” and “prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.”
What would it look like if you made it a point to declare joy to the world this week? What if you invited Christ to “make His blessings flow” precisely in the parts of your life that feel cursed? How would today be different if you intentionally lived from the truth that your saviour reigns and let that inform every word and deed? How might the world change if you sang Christmas songs in April? Let’s find out together…