Hands down, one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs is O Holy Night.

One particular line always resonates — “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices”.

The weary world.

We are weary, exhausted by the hustle, and distracted by incessant noise.

We’ve experienced loss — loss of relationships, loss of jobs, loss of dreams, security, and sometimes loss of the people we love.

We feel the ongoing stress and hurry.

We endure continued anxiety or a hidden, debilitating depression. The holiday season often inflames the quiet, inner struggles.

We experience pain, both physically and emotionally.

We are all too familiar with darkness and have gotten rather adept at hiding, suppressing and avoiding it.

Despite the ho-ho-hoes, tinsel and twinkling lights, hot cocoa and warmth of a crackling fire, the holiday season often over-whelms our fatiguing bodies and under-whelms our languishing souls.

Maybe the reason we feel down when gifts are all opened, decor is packed and stored, and normal routine re-emerges, is because we have been distracted by all that was never meant to satisfy.

The darkness remains and we question … is that it?

Maybe Christmas was never meant to be a season to fake the perfect life or create the perfect day, but set gaze on the perfect Hope.

The magic of Christmas isn’t found in the glowing rooftops, abundant gifts or perfect tree. The thrill that rejoices the soul isn’t found in the egg nog, festive music or fanciful sleigh rides.

The celebrations and festivities are but mere shadows of the greater substance.

The thrill of soul is found in Jesus. God in flesh. Redeemer-of-all-things-sin-has-broken. Life-giver. Hope-bringer. Peace-maker. Soul-Savior.

He was born at night, in the dark and cold of a harrowing cave created for smelly animals.

We must see and understand the darkness to appreciate the light.

Jesus is the light in darkness.

He breaks through the darkest and most hallow of spaces of sins corruption.

He doesn’t offer a distraction from the dark . . . HE COMPLETELY DESTROYS IT.

Behind the shadow of celebration, an ancient story of redemption becomes an ever-present, sustaining miracle.

If you prepare just one thing this season, prepare your heart.

Slow down. Pause.

Fall on your knees and look up.

Yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn.

O night divine.