"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade." 1 Peter 1:3-4
It was the night before the Christmas Eve service when church organist Lewis Redner came up with the tune to “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Waking in the night, he felt like he had heard the whisper of an angel, and he wrote down the melody of the beloved carol we still sing nearly 150 years later.
The lyrics were a poem written by Phillips Brooks, minister at Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia. Several years later, in 1865, Brooks had visited Bethlehem on horseback during a trip to the Holy Land. He saw shepherds tending their flocks in the countryside surrounding the small village and attended a Christmas Eve service in the Church of the Nativity. He remembered the moving experience several years later as he prepared for Christmas Eve worship. Brooks and Redner thought their combined composition would only be sung for that evening’s service, but, as we know, the song quickly spread and endured.
Among the song’s beautiful lyrics is this line: The hopes and fears of all the years / Are met in thee tonight. It’s a reminder that no matter how great the fear—even the fears of all history—the hope that Christ brings is greater. In Jesus, hope overcomes all our fears, and this hope is alive. Peter calls it a living hope. Because Christ has come to live and die and rise again, this hope of life conquers the fears of death. Because of Jesus, when fear and hope collide, hope wins.
How is fear darkening your life? How can you grab hold of this living hope in Jesus?