As usual my husband and I went to our parent's for Christmas. My husband's father is a pastor so every year we attend the Christmas Eve candlelight service and, in spite of the somewhat cranky, skepticism and doubts I have expressed on here, I always enjoy the service. Somehow, everyone holding their candles while we sing "Silent Night" feels holy and peaceful to me. My soul always basks in that moment and I leave feeling soothed.
This year as we sang my favorite Christmas hymn, O Holy Night, I was struck by the lesser-sung line "and in His name all oppression shall cease." As I sang those well-loved words I suddenly had a flood of all of the stories and images of Christians oppressing Muslims, homosexuals and any number of other "sinners" that I have read and seen over the last year. I remembered the hateful vitriol I read posted by many Christians in response to same-sex marriage being legalized in New York and the video I had seen of a gay man crying when a Christian man asked for forgiveness for any hatred the church and other Christians had shown toward him. All of these things and more ran through my mind and I found myself repeating those words again and again in my mind, wondering if it was hope, prayer, a wish or all of the above. That all oppression done in His name would cease. That Christians would cease to be known or thought of as oppressors and instead would be known for emancipation.
When I came home I looked up O Holy Night and came across a literal translation of the French version on Wikipedia (so the accuracy could be suspect) that sent that message home even further. Instead of "in His name all oppression will cease," the original French version said "love unites those that iron had chained." (