The Night Holiness Rolled In

Posted: December 11, 2012 by Lincoln Brunner in Uncategorized
Photo: Andreas Praefcke

Photo: Andreas Praefcke

My wife and I have a favorite Christmas carol. It’s “O Holy Night.” It’s a lilting, earnest song, all at once elegant and majestic. It wouldn’t seem like Christmas without that song.

The song’s story is beautiful, too: A King enters a desperate world to free the people there from their bondage and pain — not as a conquering soldier, but a tender baby born in the middle of nowhere, to nobodies. He acquainted himself with weakness and poverty inside time and space so that he could relate intimately with us and our situation here.

“The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!”

But the song and the story don’t stop there. Jesus came to start something you might call a holiness movement. He came to roll out a campaign of peace and love that would overpower the death and sadness that the devil used, and still uses, to keep people wrapped up in their anger and hopelessness and fear.

“Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.”

That one holy night that Christ came was just the beginning. He came to usher in a new way of life, one in which people could know God and become more like Him — the perfect human. Alan and Debra Hirsch describe this way of life, this holiness movement, nicely in their book, Untamed:

“A Hebraic understanding of holiness suggests that all of life is actually in the process of being redeemed and brought into the sphere of the sacred: Holiness begins with God, flows into our own hearts and our lives, moves from there into the community, and eventually reaches every aspect of life in the world.”

Wonderful, isn’t it? And if not a wonderful reality in the world yet, at the very least a wonderful hope for everyone. And that hope, as Pastor Brian Berg of Woodlands Church explained this past Sunday, is defined not as the desire for a future uncertainty, but rather an “anticipation of a future reality.” Christ came here and lived here and died here and rose from the dead here. Then he went home to prepare a place for us to live with him forever — if we’ll have him. He made our reality his reality for a short time so that he could make his reality our reality forever.

And it all began one holy night a long time ago. I’m very glad it did.


  1. Jim Killam says:

    My favorite carol, too, by far.

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