As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!" When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord." Then He touched their eyes, saying, "It shall be done to you according to your faith." And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them: "See that no one knows [about this!]" But they went out and spread the news about Him throughout all that land.
Matthew 9:27-31 (NASB)
Hymn: "Come, Thou Precious Ransom, Come" Johann Gottfried Olearius, trans. August Crull
I commented a year or so ago, on a different platform, that I enjoyed the Advent season for a variety of reasons, but one of those was the hymns, and my favorite of those hymns was "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." In that comment, I noted that I felt there was quite a lot of the Christian life that can be summarized simply by singing "rejoice, rejoice!" in a minor key, so often a style choice made to express despair. This has apparently resonated well with at least one friend of mine; I think of it now because she quoted me on it earlier this week on Facebook.
One of the most fascinating things that happens in scripture is the commands to rejoice in the Lord. Not that it is odd that we should be expected to worship, but that we would need to be told. Consider these blind men. Now, Jesus had His reasons for telling them not to tell people about their healing at that time, and we don't need to deal with the sequential nature of His plan at this time. But even when Christ Himself told them to keep quiet about the blessing that had come into their lives, they couldn't contain their joy. Can we? What is blindness compared to spiritual death, that we would react more stoically to His work in our lives than they did?
But rejoicing does get hard in this long, dark season, when the world seems cold and unforgiving, when the light is so slow to appear and quick to vanish. I understand that Christ was probably not born in December, but it feels hard to consider it a mistake or coincidence that we celebrate the season of Advent in this season, in this age. I have been hanging heavy here on the idea that Advent is important lately, at least partly because of how few churches I've been involved with that honor it. But remember that the point of remembering the waiting, the point of coming to a place of eager anticipation, is to restore a heart of worship in us. After all, consider in the Old Testament, how often the promises that Israel would rejoice appear alongside promises that the nation would wait, in distress or turmoil or anguish, longing for the deliverance of God. And how greatly they would rejoice when it comes!
Go forth from Babylon! Flee from the Chaldeans!
Declare with the sound of joyful shouting, proclaim this,
Send it out to the end of the earth;
Say, "The LORD has redeemed His servant Jacob."
Isaiah 48:20 (NASB)
Let is be a people of rejoicing, for the great deliverance that has come! And let us be a people, even if only for a season, who will look forward to the final day of deliverance and find in our waiting an eager joy to last us through the year.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation