Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
These lyrics from my favorite Christmas hymn, O Holy Night, feel especially poignant this year. The world feels so full of sin and so, so weary. Shootings, wildfires, hurricanes, and earthquakes have delivered devastation to a countless number of communities and families this year. I’ll admit, there are days when it feels like a dream I cannot wake up from—so real and yet so unbelievable.
We’re speechless in the face of such horror, yet we know that these tragedies do not have the final word. After the rain came the rescues—thousands of them, by neighbors and strangers. After the earthquake came hundreds of people forming human chains to remove rubble and search for missing children. After the shooting in Las Vegas came people throwing themselves on one another to protect them. The presence of God was palpable in the love and compassion offered in each of these situations.
As we enter this season of Advent, we are desperately in need of this love and compassion that comes from God. Advent means “arrival” or “coming.” We know that what is coming is the presence of Christ that brings transformation to the world, so we wait expectantly and hopefully.
When Jesus was born more than 2,000 years ago, he transformed everything – political authority, religious rules, cultural norms. He transformed the diseased into the healed and the outcasts into the celebrated guests. For the lepers who were healed and the marginalized who were included, it was a new and glorious morn. For those of us today who are weary and broken and left out, there is a new and glorious morn for us as well. The power of Christ transforms our lives, bringing about hope and wholeness.
In Romans, Paul writes, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.” (Romans 12:2, The Message) Christian transformation isn’t about making small edits to our lives, but about complete renewal. The Greek word for transformation is metamorphoō, which is where we get the word metamorphosis. The caterpillar that changes into a butterfly offers us an image of the way in which God transforms our lives – we completely transcend our previous form in order to become a new creature.
It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are reshaped so that we are no longer molded, or attached, to the brokenness of sin. This Advent, ask God to transform you from the inside out, creating in you a new heart that bears the likeness of Christ and beats for the transformation of the world. God can, and does, take a weary world and bring about a new and glorious morn.