God Rest {and Tidings of Joy}

Dayspring Redeemed Christmas

My heart skips with each flip of the Advent Calendar and I wonder when it switched. When the act of waiting turned into scurrying. When the anxiousness of getting there transformed into wanting more time before it arrives.

As I’m lost in my thoughts, my son asks me what they’re singing on the radio…

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember, Christ, our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from satan’s power
When we were gone astray…

How have I missed it? The archaic verbage doesn’t help, but why have I thought this struggle of rushing was a new thing when they’ve been singing about it for more than 200 years?

If you research it, there are many discussions on what the first line really means. The word ‘rest’ is said to translate more literally into ‘keep’ or ‘make’. But it was the comma I’ve never paid attention to before.

It’s not God , Rest…we’re not pleading for it.
It’s God Rest…no comma — it’s given freely.

Friends, we’re not merry without the first part –rest– being given directly from God.

God rest. Yes, that’s what I need.

Clearly I’m no English savant, but no one will be able to talk me out of this invitation to take His yolk and discover joy.

Thank You, Father, for offering Your shoulder this Season to soak in the love You poured down long ago. I can’t think of a better way to display it than a birth of a child.

And may I never get over Your grace as You offer time and time again to save us from the enemy’s grip. Yes, Jesus, please…pull me in closer this Advent… 

Friends, I’m tired of excuses. No more “too busy” for me.

We get so caught up with life we forget to live.

We get so wrapped up in giving
we neglect the greatest gift of all.

Dayspring Christmas Cards

So as I sit amid the gift paper, tinsel fragments, and tape residue, I’ll slow down and write it all out. I’ll be thankful I forgot to order photo cards so I can personalize each one. And I’ll share with family and friends what this season means to me and what I’m hoping they savor all year-long.

Friends, let’s make praise our priority this Season as we declare the final stanzas:

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;

This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface:

Oh tidings of comfort and joy….
Comfort and Joy.
Oh tidings of Comfort and Joy.

And how can we send tidings of comfort and joy when we haven’t filled up ourselves?

Let’s take more time with Him this Season. Let’s rest in Him. He’s offering…

How about you, friend? How are you finding rest in Him this Season? How are you sharing tidings of comfort and joy? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

NOTE: This is a part of my Advent Series where I take portions of Christmas Hymn Classics and share what they mean to me. You may find others HERE.

Please know I was gifted with cards, an advent calendar, coasters and a mug this Christmas Season by Dayspring. I love each one but know this gift hasn’t altered my post in any way. All ideas expressed here are my own.

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39 thoughts on “God Rest {and Tidings of Joy}

  1. Hi dear Nikki
    Oh, dear friend, there is nothing on earth that can compare to His rest! The joy of living in Him day after day makes our whole life an peaceful journey of rest!
    Hugs and. God- filled Christmas to you and your family!
    Mia

  2. I came by for a visit just as I was on my way to Somewhere else… ah yes… the reminder to Slow… to Breathe in… to Drink and Relish and Soak… and Exhale. “God Rest!” It almost sings through parted lips with hearts turned heavenward in praise! Thank you sweet friend! Maybe I will sit back and linger awhile longer!

  3. Hi Nikki,
    You’re so very right about the rest that comes from spending time in His presence. I’m finding rest by spending time with the family the next couple of weeks. It’s so great having the kids home and I don’t want to miss any of it because I’m stuck at my laptop!

    May you have the merriest Christmas yet! Consider yourself hugged!

  4. Oh’ Nikki, this is probably the slowest Christmas season I’ve ever made and I love it. I’m soaking up whatever He would like me to see. Thank you for sharing another beautiful hymn girl! Merry almost Christmas to you! ~ Love out, Amy

  5. When you spoke about the comma I first thought you meant the comma before Christ…Remember, Christ, our Savior. Loved your thoughts about finding rest in God and yes when we remember and put Him first we will find that peace and rest. Praising Him with you in songs this season.
    Joy

    • I had to look at “Remember, Christ, our Savior” a long time, Joy. And considered sharing that, too, but ran out of space! Love that you thought of that! Thank you for sharing with me, Friend. Love and hugs to you!

  6. I posted about something similar today! I have really been trying to make a conscious effort to slow down and enjoy my children and this beautiful Advent season. Another beautiful post that just touches my heart, friend!

  7. I’m trying to find rest. Just aching for some peace and quiet. I haven’t yet done my Christmas cards and each time I sot to attempt it, it feels too heavy and tiring. I assume that because the things I usually enjoy, I am putting off, it is because I’m craving peace and rest–no more busy.

    Your words are always so beautiful, and I love your warm images here too.
    Love and peace to you, my friend. Merry Christmas.

  8. I loved your inspiration on God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
    In light of the tragedy everyone is asking how can we enjoy Christmas. It’s all right there isn’t it? I read the final chapter in Isaiah early this morning. It struck me again: in the midst of the evil of mankind, God’s remnant is to have joy in Him, we can acknowledge and mourn the ugly hurt and still spill over in His inner joy. The Holy Spirit instructs Isaiah that “but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed” {66:5}. Our JOY in Christ, not our rhetoric our theological answers are to confound the scoffers and be a wonder to lost seekers.

    • So true, Leah. No one can take Christ away from us. And if we put our Joy in Him…nothing can separate us from Him (Romans 8:38-39 comes to mind)

      I’ll be dwelling on Isaiah 66:5–thank you for that, Leah!

  9. Resting in Him is what saves me at the end of each day….or in the middle when I am worn and tired and feeling lost and alone. The promises that He gave us are what I cling to and embrace! I love that carol for the word pictures that it evokes. Merry Christmas, sweet friend!

  10. Nikki, you have such insight into His provisions for us, even in this busy season, “God rest.” God rest is what we all need in our lives all the time to savor His goodness and peace. This Christmas is very quiet for us for obvious reasons. Losing a loved one near the holidays changes the complexion of the days. But it doesn’t change the identity of the One who came down and dwelt among us, or the One who has touched us multiple times, or the One who right now is holding on to us lest we allow our grief to swallow us up and we lose our way. Thanks for this beautiful reading. Enjoy God rest, dear friend!

    • Sherrey, I’m honored you would take time to stop by and read my heart during this season. Thank you, friend. Praying you see all the ways He still shines a star in the darkness…just for you. May His love come down and wrap you up tight, Sherrey. Love and hugs to you!

  11. Love how M. will ask a question that redirects you, and how you follow His lead to find rest in Him…so grateful His rest is given freely to us, albeit costly to Him…praying you are feeling better, wishing you and yours a blessed and restful Christmas in the midst of it all…love and hugs to you 🙂

    • Thank you, dear Dolly. I’m always amazed how God can use my child to pull me back into focus! what a blessing! I’m striving to be better…think this one is going to take awhile! Thank you for your prayers! Love and hugs to you, friend!

  12. I am trying to find that rest. I purposely stepped away from writing for a couple of weeks, but life has not slowed down yet. I only got some money to Christmas shop on Friday, so I’ve been rushing around trying to get everything done. All I can do is breathe Him in and allow His peace and presence to flood my heart. Merry Christmas my friend!

    • Barbie, I’m so thrilled you’d stop by and read my heart during this busy season! And Praise God for providing! May you continue to see all the ways He still shines a star bright in the darkness to light your path, friend.
      Love and hugs to you! And a very Merry Christmas!

  13. Stepping away from the media, for even just this short week, has been a gift. It has allowed me to get wrapped up in my family and in their joy. And it has been good. I will not be able to hear that line “God rest ye, merry gentlemen…” the same way again, this season. And I am thankful! Merry Merry Christmas!!

  14. Pingback: Merry Christmas « Prepare for Mass

  15. Christians in Bethlehem will celebrate midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, but dream of living elsewhere
    Arab Christians will crowd into Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity on Christmas Eve, but social and economic pressures mean they are a dwindling minority in the town where Christ was born.
    A woman lights candles in the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012.
    A woman lights candles in the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem Photo: AP
    Nick Meo

    By Nick Meo, Bethlehem

    7:30AM GMT 23 Dec 2012

    Christian Arab families from Bethlehem will crowd into the town’s Church of the Nativity to celebrate Christmas Eve, as their ancestors have done for nearly 2000 years.

    Midnight Mass, televised around the world live from Bethlehem, will be a moving and beautiful spectacle as it is on this night every year. But even as they celebrate in the town of Christ’s birth, many of Bethlehem’s dwindling population of Christians will be dreaming of a new life far from the Holy Land.

    “Like Christians elsewhere in the Middle East, I’m not sure we have a future here,” said Jack Giacaman, the prosperous owner of a souvenir shop. He can trace his ancestors back nearly 400 years to an Italian stonemason who came to work on Franciscan churches.

    “It’s not like Iraq or Syria where Christians are being killed and persecuted, thank goodness,” he said. “But there are few jobs for our community and we are under pressure from both Jews and Muslims, both of whom are becoming more religious. Some people now say Christians could even vanish from Bethlehem.”

    It seems hard to believe that the Christian community is in trouble. Bells still peal out, echoing through the winding streets and on Sundays not one but two services are held simultaneously in the sprawling Church of the Nativity – a Roman Catholic one, which plays hymns on a loudspeaker outside the service, and a Greek Orthodox one next door, where the congregation listens to deep-throated singing as they are bathed in clouds of incense.
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    Christmas will be celebrated four times in Bethlehem in the next few weeks as the Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Syrian and Coptic churches all mark it on different dates.

    Last week, as a few tour parties of tourists were venturing back after the brief Gaza war caused mass cancellations, there was a huge Christmas tree in Manger Square. The squat and massive church – one of the holiest in Christendom dating back to 339 AD – had a giant neon star shining on its roof.

    “I don’t think Christians will stay here because there is no work for us,” said George, a helper at the Milk Grotto five minutes walk south of Manger Square, where the devout believe the holy family hid before their flight from the slaughter of the innocents.

    Like many people in the town he preferred not to give his full name. “I have five children and I can barely earn enough to feed them. We need a miracle. It would be a terrible shame if all Christians had to leave the Holy Land, and especially the town where Christ was born. We don’t want to go – but how can we stay? I would get out if I could.”

    Until the beginning of the 20th century, about one in four of the population of the Holy Land was a Christian Arab. Bethlehem was their biggest centre, and they remained a thriving community until the 1990s.

    Today only about two per cent of the population of Israel and eight per cent of the West Bank is Christian. In Bethlehem they now make up only one fifth of the town’s population, and most are poor. The young and energetic would like to emigrate if they could, following uncles and cousins who have sought their fortunes overseas, especially in Chile.

    “Half my family lives in Honduras now,” said Shireen Khamis, 29. Her uncle, owner of a pork butcher, will spend Christmas in Canada with another branch of the family. She has a good job as a manager with a foreign organisation and wants to stay in Palestine.

    The tourists and pilgrims who stream into Bethlehem for Christmas Eve, and sit next to them during Mass, will see little of the Christian community’s problems. But if they arrive a few days early they may be shocked to see what happens in the days leading up to Dec 24 in Manger Square.

    It used to be a week of solemn religious devotion and innocent wonder for all the family, but now there are several nights of rowdy partying. Rock music concerts put on in Manger Square by the Palestinian Authority attract huge crowds of boisterous young Muslim men with no interest in the spiritual experience. Christians complain that they spoil the highlight of their year.

    Ursula Mukarker, 34, a psychologist who works for an organisation helping traumatised victims of violence, said: “The problem is that at Christmas many people come from the surrounding villages and most of them are men, they are noisy and a nuisance, and they don’t come to celebrate Christmas with us.

    “We wouldn’t mind if they came with their families, especially with their sisters or wives. But it makes it difficult for Christian women to celebrate Christmas as we would like to.

    “No woman could go alone to Manger Square now – you must have your husband, your brother or your father with you as an escort. Often the men start fights among themselves and they goad our men.

    “It is particularly bad in the week before Christmas, when there are lots of events – the lights on the tree are switched on, foreign choirs come to sing carols. I would like to take my two daughters to see them but you just don’t feel comfortable to go any more. It is a pity that we cannot spend our Christmas as we wish.”

    It is a common complaint made by Christians in the town, although one that few will make openly. One young man added: “Generally Muslims and Christians get on well together here. But they do not respect our religious occasions and they are not good at tolerating other cultures.

    “The police do their best. But it gets worse and worse each year. Some of these youths are uncontrollable, they insult and touch our women.”

    Older people say the town has changed almost beyond recognition from the Bethlehem of their youth. “Life used to be a lot easier for Christians,” said Qustandi Qaabar, 72. He ekes out a living running a small shop.

    “Our town was wealthy from the tourist trade and the community used to help those who needed it. Now tens of thousands have gone abroad and there are few jobs for those of us left.”

    The economic problems are particularly galling because the town should be wealthy from the coach loads of tourists who arrive daily to visit the church and holy sites.

    But townspeople complain that Israeli tour guides only stop to visit the church, then quickly drive off afterwards after warning visitors that it is dangerous to explore – which is clearly untrue. Bethlehem is probably the quietest and safest city on the unstable West Bank.

    Mr Qaabar’s son Ramzi, 36, a software engineer, studied in America for a while, but returned home to be with his parents, although he admits that even with a good qualification he struggles to make a decent living.

    “There have always been Christians in Bethlehem and I hope there always will be,” he said.

    A greater worry than making a living is political instability. The town lies on one of the most unstable fault lines in the Middle East and militant Islamism is on the march throughout the region, although Bethlehem has so far been mostly untroubled by it.

    Elsewhere in the West Bank Christians have fled their homes at least partly because of threats from Islamic extremists. Nearly all the Christians from Hebron, an ancient, troubled city to the south, have moved to Bethlehem.

    The Israeli occupation of their land is a more immediate problem. Bethlehem lies behind Israel’s security wall that snakes across hillsides covered with olive groves, cutting it off from Jerusalem a few miles away. “Sometimes you feel like you are suffocated here,” Ramzi Qaabar said.

    “There aren’t many jobs, the Israelis can do what they like – they came into town last night and arrested some people – and then there is the Apartheid wall. There is always the fear that violence is going to start up again.”

    Permits to visit Jerusalem, a few miles away, are hard to come by so family ties suffer. During the second Intifada a decade ago a wave of Christians emigrated, especially the better-off and well-educated. Dozens of residents were killed and injured during the violence a decade ago.

    In 2002 gunmen who took over the Church of the Nativity were besieged by Israeli tanks for 39 days. Christian Arabs in the town claim 86 per cent of their land has been confiscated by the Israelis, most of it by the military. Israeli settlements have spread on the hillsides around the town.

    Much of the land was taken for the controversial security wall, a concrete construction bigger than the Berlin Wall, with checkpoints and watchtowers, which the Israelis say had to be built to keep out suicide bombers. An extension to the wall threatens to cut off the vineyards of the Cremisan Cellars, founded by a Salesian Monastery in 1885, from Bethlehem, three miles away.

    But Bethlehem’s depleted Christians know their ancestors endured centuries of war, conquest, plague and turmoil.

    “I fear Christians will be fewer and fewer here until we finally vanish from the town where Jesus was born, which would be very sad,” said Atallah Kasis, 24, who has already tried unsuccessfully to emigrate to the USA. “But we still trust in God. That’s our last hope.”

  16. In liturgical traditions, the Christmas season continues past New Year until Epiphany, which celebrates the manifestation of Jesus to the Gentile wise men known as the Magi. So, continue to imbibe those lyrics that proclaim “the Savior reigns,” “peace on earth” and “tidings of comfort and joy.” Rest assured that it keeps with Christian tradition, even if friends and neighbors roll their eyes.

  17. WOW!! Good elaboration of “comfort” and “joy”. I could so relate to the hill experience since the joy of trekking to the top of the hill and the view is worth every bit of “uncomfortable” trek. Another similar distinction I see is between “fun” and “happiness”. As my father says his most cherished moments are when he is among his loved ones (family/best friends) and now that’s all he craves for. Thumbs up for a feel good hub.

  18. In Bethlehem, in Israel, This blessed Babe was born And laid within a manger Upon this blessed morn The which His Mother Mary Did nothing take in scorn O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy O tidings of comfort and joy!

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