JOY TO THE WORLD
A commentary BY: FRED PRUITT
DECEMBER 7, 2002
with Special consideration to Isaac Watts and G. F. Handel
for the most glorious of Christmas Songs
JOY TO THE WORLD! THE LORD IS COME;
LET EARTH RECEIVE HER KING;
LET EVERY HEART PREPARE HIM ROOM,
AND HEAVEN AND NATURE SING,
AND HEAVEN AND NATURE SING,
AND HEAVEN, AND HEAVEN AND NATURE SING.
JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD IS COME!
Imagine, for a moment, what world. Into what world does the Lord from heaven come, and from where? Into what lowly manger, what dirty stable full of dung, does the Babe from heaven consent to lie? Nowhere else but in the lowly manger and the dirty stable full of the dung of human reality. Into the very place HE should not be, as we would think, for it’s not fine enough, it’s not clean enough, it’s not fancy enough, it’s certainly not HOLY enough, for the Majesty from On High to make His dwelling place. And such are we! We are the lowly manger. We are the dirty stable full of dung, into whom the Lord generates Himself as a newborn Babe. Into the conflict and strife of the world that beats in and wears out our fleshly hearts, into the midst of the pain that we feel every day from things not being as they should be, into the mire of the consequences of our ill-guided actions and misinformed decisions that seem insoluable, into the depths of the underlying fear that gnaws at the center of our very being in every moment of our existence, THERE the BABE is born!
LET EARTH RECEIVE HER KING! LET EVERY HEART PREPARE HIM ROOM!
He was born 2000 years ago in Bethlehem only to point out the fact that HE IS BORN IN US, IN US, right now, TODAY. In US? Yes, IN US! What can that mean? Simply that in the midst of our innermost selves, in the mess of that which we know to be “ourselves,” HE arises as the Daystar in our hearts, a suddenly TURNED-ON LIGHT where there had been only darkness & despair, a miraculously appearing and mysterious HOPE where there could possibly have been NO HOPE! How? By the hearing of the gentle sound of His Voice, resonating in the depths of the depths of our own earth, our own selves, a familiar voice, a voice without condemnation, without judgment, a VOICE of LOVE, closer in than our own thoughts about ourselves, deeper than our fears, calling us by name, to which we can only respond, if we hear His Voice, “Lord, I receive YOU. My feeble kingship is done for. My heart and my body fails, my mind aches, I’m afraid everyday, I’m tired, but You, Lord, are able, You, Lord, are King, and You are King in me!”
AND HEAVEN AND NATURE SING, AND HEAVEN AND NATURE SING!
In the Babe in the manger, surrounded by the donkeys and cattle and fodder and roughneck shepherds, are united for all Eternity Heaven and Earth, Heaven and Nature. Our human reality, our human existence, which had sunk into pits of tar and quicksand from which it could not extricate itself, by the birth of the Babe in the midst of it, in the midst of OURSELVES, is once again reunited and made one with that from which it sprang, for we have forever been God’s offspring, though we have lost our way. The Kingdom of God, which is not some far-off place far above the clouds, or over in gloryland by and by, the Son of Man says is “within us.” Where the Babe is born, there is heaven manifest, there is the glory and power and majesty of the Holy Almighty God made plain and flowing forth, even though to merely human eyes and noses it looks and smells like a stable full of dung. Wherever He is, a bright star is shining above and hosts of angels are singing eternally “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, Peace & Goodwill to men.” When He arises in us, there heaven and earth are united, made one, and all the choruses of heaven and all the sounds of nature (ourselves) unite in a symphony of harmony, melody, and praise that vibrates from the innermost and uppermost reaches of heaven within us throughout the farthest and most secret meadows of our seemingly frustrated human existence, breaking forth into the most glorious SONG every heard. “Heaven AND earth are FULL of thy Glory!”
JOY TO THE WORLD [Fred Pruitt] 12-7-02 1