I step off the subway at the Park Street stop and walk up the dark staircase that takes me out to the Boston Common. It’s still dark and winter is all around me. The annual tree lighting ceremony has taken place and the lights shine brightly in this early morning hour.
White, twinkly lights brighten other trees in the area as well – symbolic of the season. But despite the attempts at magic and celebration, all the lights and decorations in the world can’t hide the homeless man who I just passed, can’t hide the dirt of yesterdays’ tourists, can’t hide the brokenness of the city.
All around me I see evidence of this brokenness. It is in the glum, moodiness of passers-by. It is in the grocery cart pushed by the homeless woman, piled high with bottles and filthy blankets. It is in the impatient honking of a car, driver angry at the vehicle in front of him. It is in the sadness in the eyes of the young woman on the street.
It’s the world of Isaiah 35 – A world of the blind, the mute, the lame, the broken.
A world that needs the hope of the Incarnation, the joy of redemption.
And in the quiet of the city morning, the melody of Joy to the World comes faintly, unexpected. I can barely make out the words and I don’t know where it’s coming from. I wonder if it’s in my head, a trick of my mind. But as I walk it gets louder and there is no mistaking Mariah Carey’s strong soprano “Joy to the World, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King…..No more let sin and sorrow reign, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his glories known, far as the curse is found….” It’s a song of redemption in a weary city; a God-breathed reminder that our world has not been abandoned.
This is the everlasting Joy that Isaiah speaks of — that our God will come; our God has come. This is the joy in the desert, the joy in the city, the joy of the redeemed. The joy of a rainy Monday in a bleak December.
(This piece was originally written for an Advent Devotional produced by Park Street Church)
I want to thank so many of you who shared yesterday’s post “It’s not the way it’s supposed to be!” I purposely didn’t post on Saturday feeling like there were no words and that was best. I know some of your stories, and I know that you are keenly aware that it’s not the way it’s supposed to be – and yet at the end of the day, you have hope. Thank you – it shouts to me from your comments and emails.