Invitation to Rejoice

And the angel told her,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you.
And the Holy Thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.”
What an amazing, what an impossible message
the angel brought to a young girl!
But Mary looked at the angel and said,
“Be it unto me according to your word.”
And so the life of Jesus began as it would end, with the impossible.
When he was a grown man, he would say to his disciples,
“For human beings, it is impossible. For God, nothing is impossible.”

Possible things are easy to believe.
The Glorious Impossibles are what bring joy to our hearts,
hope to our lives, songs to our lips. 

Madeleine L’Engle, The Glorious Impossible

A simple retelling of the life of Jesus with stunning artwork

A back story, Good Christian Friends, Rejoice

Heinrich Suso was born to German nobility in 1295. Instead of rising to rule, he became a Dominican monk. He had a strong desire to take the gospel to the masses so that everyone, no matter the circumstance of his birth, could know the joy of faith in Christ. He wrote a book, Little Book of Truth, that proposed this very thing, taking the gospel to the common man. His book was labeled heresy. That didn’t stop him. His next book, Little Book of Eternal Wisdom, explained the gospel in simple terms, written for the common man to understand and rejoice in faith. Again he was reviled, persecuted, and eventually exiled.

Wanting to bring joy to the practice of the Christian faith, Suso preached of the happiness he found in walking with God. Many wondered how such a reviled man could find such blessings in life. He explained that God gave him peace and inspiration during every waking hour, and even while he rested.

Ace Collins, Stories Behind the Best Loved Songs of Christmas

Suso had a vivid dream one night when he saw angels singing and dancing. In his dream, he joined in the rejoicing. Upon awakening, he penned a hymn we still sing today. His hymn was not typical of that time period when church music was not written for the common man but was solemn and totally based on scripture. Suso broke all of the rules, embracing verses that reflected the joy of his salvation and were simple enough even for children to understand. Suso’s Christmas carol did not become popular until it was translated into English by J. M. Neale in the mid-1800s.

The invitation

Good Christian friends, rejoice
with heart and soul and voice;
give ye heed to what we say:
Jesus Christ was born today.
Ox and ass before him bow,
and he is in the manger now.
Christ is born today!
Christ is born today!

Good Christian friends, rejoice
with heart and soul and voice;
now ye hear of endless bliss:
Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened heaven’s door,
and we are blest forevermore.
Christ was born for this!
Christ was born for this!

Good Christian friends, rejoice
with heart and soul and voice;
now ye need not fear the grave:
Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all
to gain his everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save!
Christ was born to save!

Suso’s hymn reminds us that the birth of Christ is a time of rejoicing. Jesus came to open “heaven’s door,” rending the curtain between God and man, establishing God’s kingdom on earth. We are truly blest forevermore!

He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.

He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.

He did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy he came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.

He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.

We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!

Madeleine L’Engle, “First Coming”
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