“O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”
Have you ever really listened to the words of the famous Christmas Song, “O Holy Night?” Not just listened while doing other things, but really listened and prayed about the words? This advent, the song keeps popping up all over for me and I’ve been forced to really think about it, and have been transformed by the words, especially the verse I posted above.
One of my favorite authors and spiritual guides is Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, founder and CEO of Homebody Industries – an organization which gives jobs and other services to those who have been incarcerated and/or in gangs. Fr. Greg’s entire ministry has been dedicated to living and working with those who our society deems dangerous and unworthy. His life’s work has been dedicated to helping souls “feel their worth.”
But what does it mean for a soul to feel its worth? And how can we participate in this process?
One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Mister Eckhart, a 16th century German theologian and mystic. In typical mystical fashion, he is credited with saying, “We are all meant to be mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born.” I think helping other souls to feel their worth is the very way we all birth God into the word each and every day. It is through our actions, through helping other people feel worthy, embraced, and loved, that we can each make the divine present.
And so, what if this advent season, we focused more on listening to and praying with the words of “O Holy Night,” than buying presents or going to parties? How would our world be transformed if the gift we gave our loved ones, and even our not-so-loved ones, was the gift of love and worthiness? What if we all focused on helping others to see themselves the way God sees them, as beloved treasures?
In graduate school, a professor of mine once said that when people were in the presence of Jesus, they felt transformed. They felt saved. They felt redeemed. They felt loved. And that is why lyrics of “O Holy Night” should ring so true; because when Jesus came, people finally knew what it felt like to be loved. Into of a world filled with sin and error, Jesus brought love, and through that love, souls finally felt their worth.
My hope for each of you this advent season and beyond is not only that you feel the worth of your own soul, but that you help others do the same. You are so worthy; you are so loved; you are so beautiful. May you always feel worthy, blessed, and loved and may your presence help others to feel the same. Amen and Merry Christmas.
This blog post was written by campus minister Sarah Fontaine-Lipke.