Incarnation — the work of God in a weary world

I remember hearing the story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the writing of his poem, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”. I was reminded of it again as I read an article by Kristen O’Neal on the subject of the poem.

The entire article is well worth your time to read. These last few paragraphs are deeply meaningful to me as I contemplate the world in which we live right now. Personally, it’s been a blessed year. I leave this year deeply thankful. For our world, however, there is a darkness that ever creeps forward.

The American Church is deep trouble and completely unwilling to acknowledge it. There is a deepening division that continues to “Balkanize” our nation.

In many places of the world, peoples groups hang in the balance as alliances are pulled back and their desperation only grows deeper.

There are the tragedies, such as the recent tsunami that hit Indonesia. The death toll still rises.

Where is God in all this? Longfellow’s poem captures this so beautifully. These last words in O’Neal’s article are exceptional as well:

Despair is heavy; the world continues to mire us in it. Hate is strong; it drowns out everything else until we cannot hear the voice of God.

Here is how we keep going when we have no hope left, when we cannot pull ourselves up: God says, “Get up,” and when we can’t, he fills us with the Spirit and pulls us to our feet. He is here with us. He is not dead. He is not sleeping. He has come down to earth, enfleshed and incarnate, to bring justice and peace. Immanuel: God with us.

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