There is a tension between the merriment of the Christmas season, and the darkness that is so prevalent in our world, in our communities, in our homes, and in our own hearts. The reality of this tension is not something that should be hidden in the closet for a month, only to re-emerge when its reality can no longer be suppressed by distractions and festivities. The tension between joy and sorrow, peace and pain, light and darkness should fuel our worship of the God who entered into the darkness like the dawn breaks into the night!
“O Come, Thou Dayspring! Come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here! Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight!”
The profound meaning of this classic Christmas Carol can get lost in its familiarity and its poetic language. The verse seems to allude to Isaiah 9:2-7, where Israel, in the face of coming judgment and tribulation, is encouraged to look forward to the birth of a special Child, a Son. This Son would be a light shining into the darkness—like the dayspring [i.e. dawn] puts an end to the clouds of night. His advent [i.e. His coming] would bring an end to the suffering. He would cause wars to cease. He would bring peace. He would do this by removing the root cause: our sin and the consequent curse of separation from God. He would be Emmanuel, God-with-us.
“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!”
We can rejoice because Immanuel came to remove the curse by becoming the curse. We can rejoice because He is at work to “make His blessings known far as the curse is found.” And we can rejoice because Emmanuel will come again!
Long lay the world in sin and error, pining ‘til he appeared, and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope! The weary world rejoices! For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.