As we embark on the wonderful season of Christmas, our homes, radios, and music streaming services are filled with massive amounts of Christmas music. Multiple hits ring in the ears of listeners: “O Come Emmanuel,” “Joy to the World,” or even fun holiday melodies like “Jingle Bells” and “White Christmas.” With all of the wonderful songs to get us into the Christmas spirit, there is one (in my opinion) that might get overlooked, and especially one key verse within it. “O Holy Night.” The depth of this song’s Gospel Message is often disregarded, famous instead for its impressive and challenging notes, conquered by vocal greats like Mariah Carey and Celine Dion.
Four years ago, as I sang “O Holy Night” during my morning routine of brushing my teeth, shaving, and getting dressed, the song suddenly struck my heart with an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude. This was the verse that put me on my knees:
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and our soul felt its worth.”
I know that I’m a sinner saved by Grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-10), but the Lord used these lyrics to open my eyes even further to the depth of His love for me. It is a message both we and our teens can stand to really marinate on. So many of our students wander through life seeking to attain status and value through wealth, popularity, sports notoriety, creative skills, intellect, good looks, self-esteem, and relationships. All of our souls long for a deep fulfillment to quench their thirst, but more often than not we seek that fulfillment in worldly or material things. We desperately hope these things will fill the dark emptiness of our soul – and they may seem to for a moment, but always ultimately return void and broken.
Nothing in this world can ever quench the eternal thirst our soul truly craves. So what then? That verse in “O Holy Night” is far too beautiful to overlook: “Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and our soul felt its worth.” Here we are, drowning, and dying in our sin, seeking to fulfill our lives with things that never seem to deliver on what they promise, but then Jesus appears and changes everything!
I’m not merely talking about His physical arrival at the time of His birth. I’m talking about the moment that He appeared to you, to your kids, and called you by name out of darkness and into His marvelous light. I’m talking about the moment when He says that you are His. I’m talking about the moment that all your wandering and seeking, your soul looking everywhere for it’s worth, was found in Christ. Yes, this is the amazing reality of these lyrics. The fact that we as sinners were dead in our trespasses (Colossians 2:13), unable to save ourselves, and yet God, being rich in mercy, and wealthy in grace, chose to say to you: Awake, come taste and see that the Lord is good! Awake o sinner, you are now alive in Christ!
Our students need to be reminded, now as ever, that Christ has purchased them with His death on the cross and made it possible for them to be in right standing with God their Father. This is the most amazing news they could ever hear! With so many “things” our teens hope to receive this year at Christmas time, may we (as Student Pastors, Youth Leaders, parents, and volunteers) shepherd students toward the only One who can fully satisfy their soul. May we always, and especially now, point them to Jesus.
I pray this Christmas season that when you hear “O Holy Night” (or other song’s like it), when you sing them at your youth group’s Christmas party, you would remember that these songs are not primarily festive. They sing of the Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, born that we no more may die. Herein lies the beautiful source of our soul’s true worth. Merry Christmas!