Why We Need Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Today, this second Sunday of Advent, I listened to a sermon which gave voice to something I’ve bee thinking and feeling a lot lately:

I’m sick of living in this world.

I know that sounds negative and perhaps, makes you wonder about my emotional health and what kind of sermons I hear. But, I believe my reflections and the sermon’s arise from sound minds.

The sermon was an exposition of Isaiah 59:8-20 and this lyrical theme from the Christmas hymn O, Holy Night:

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining…”

I know most people don’t really believe in religious notions like sin. Most no longer believe that human error ascends to the level of offenses committed against an almighty, law-giving God.

Long lay the world...

But the Christian does.

The Christian knows the sin and error in the world, and in his own heart, and grows weary of it. Sick of it.

The Christian pines because of the millions of sins, driven by the pervasive, black nature of human sin: All the injustice. All the immorality. All the oppression. The violent crime. The wars. Intrigues. Plots. Greed. Lies. Hate.

Death, the curse of Sin.

The Christian looks at the world and sees all of this, not as one detached and above it, like the angels of God, but as one who is both complicit, and victim. The Christian knows the world is broken, and won’t pretend he or she isn’t part, and cause, of the brokenness.

All of this has been weighing on me lately. I confess I’ve felt a kind of despair about living in a world that never improves, while I never seem to improve. True, centuries of knowledge spurring economic and technological growth has raised living conditions for many. But the people and movements and regimes we hear about today are no different than those we read of in 4,000 year-old history—killing, oppressing and manipulating out of sheer hate, or to acquire a larger slice of the power-pie.

And in the end we all die, even if we’re one of the fortunate few who die from old age, because this is true:

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining…”

Sometimes, I get sick of it.

Don’t you?

I need good news…

from beyond our world.

The world has none to offer.

More than we know, we need a good word of hope for the world and for us. Though we rarely sense it, and only half-heartedly admit it, we need to hear:

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”—Luke 2:10-11

If you, like me, realize this broken, violent world of sin and error can’t be cured with medicine or psychology, if you despair of improving it by education, or by a higher morality, or a better philosophy or government, then this message will not sound to you like a tired and sentimental religious relic.

Rather, you will hear good news of promise, a new world, a kingdom in which righteousness reigns in peace, in which sin, error, and death cease. You will hear joyful news of a Savior for all who will believe, and for all who believe to repeat until He comes.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

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2 thoughts on “Why We Need Tidings of Comfort and Joy

  1. Hey Lon, great post. Since I subscribed to your posts, I have read most of them. I really want to “share” this one on Facebook, but I’m not sure I know how to. I will “like” it and see if it then gives me the option to share…

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