They had been waiting a long time, waiting in a strange mix of silence and shouts. Their God had been silent, you see. He hadn’t given them word for such a long time, but the words from long ago spoke promises of redemption and hope. Their God had told them that they would be clean at last, they they would be rescued, that their suffering would one day end, that He would never forsake them. Yet, they waited.
That night, when there was no room in any inn, was the night when the waiting ended. You see, in the most humble of moments, the waiting was over. There was a girl, so young and innocent, who was pregnant. Her husband was not the father of the child. The child was something else entirely – this child was God’s own son. This child was God in flesh. Oh, what madness that was – in a time when rulers had laid claim to their own divinity, a child was born whose heart beat with the One True God’s. These earthly rulers were nothing compared to the majesty of this child.
And He, He was born in a manger, surrounded by animals rather than splendour, but his own splendour would change everything. In the middle of the mess, a saviour was born. The Saviour was born. The shepherds knew it, the shock of the angelic voices ringing clear in their hearts, and as the star lit up the sky, the Magi knew what King Herod did too – this child was truly royal. The Magi brought gifts whilst Herod sought to bring violence, because the threat to himself was great.
This thrill of hope rang out for years. The first sound was with his birth, and we have what follows written for us in the gospels – rich accounts of what he did, who he was, and why it is that this thrill of hope was not just for those who had waited so long, but also for those of us who wait today.
We wait for better days and we wait for the next big thing. We wait for change and we wait for something to rely on. We wait for the day when we will no longer feel alone, when we will feel truly known and loved and welcome, but as we wait, we wait within the midst of this thrill of hope.
And just as the shepherds rejoiced on that first night, and in the quietness just after He was born, Mary and Joseph would have rejoiced as this child who they knew was someone truly special, we too can rejoice. But we do not always rejoice with trumpet calls and dancing.
A thrill of hope is met with the rejoicing of a weary world. With sighs of relief and wonder at what will happen now, with admiration of Him who brings relief, with anticipation and oh, so much jubilation.
This thrill of hope has rung out for generations, through the rising and falling of nations, and today as I sit in the sorrow that this season of silliness brings so often, my weary heart rejoices, because this thrill of hope will continue to ring out until He returns. Then, and only then, will this hope become a reality. We will be home, and this thrill of hope is not for nothing. It is for Him who was born in a manger – the King who came to serve, the Saviour who came to stand in the place of those whom He loves.
The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…