A Thrill of Hope

Street Corner

“O Holy Night” is one of the greatest Christmas carols ever written, and it contains a phrase that I often circle back to this time of year:

“A thrill of hope.”

It’s easy to be reminded that Jesus is the reason for the season, but it’s just as important to remember why that first Christmas was so special. It wasn’t just that God the Son took on flesh to be our Savior — it was the fulfillment of hundreds of years of promises and prophecies.

Long lay the world

In sin and error pining

Till He appear’d

And the soul felt its worth

Before Christ, the Israelites lived in bondage to sin, finding atonement only through ongoing animal sacrifices. Generations of them also suffered humiliation and defeat at the hands of their enemies, getting invaded, conquered, enslaved — after having been delivered from slavery centuries earlier. Yet hope remained, for…

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