Sunday, December 01, 2013

"O Holy Night"

Every year, my daughter and I text each other when we have heard O Holy Night for the first time.  This year for me, I heard it in a small, basically empty Thai restaurant where Kathi and I were eating.
But today was the real deal in that we sang it in church.  Both times I texted Ames to tell her.  To date, she hasn't heard it yet.  But it signals the real beginning of the Christmas season for us.

The lyric that is particularly powerful for us, is this one.
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name

In His name all oppression shall cease. That goes along with the earlier verse that says
Long lay the world in sin and error pining till He appear and the soul felt its worth
This song is so powerful because it demonstrates how valuable people are to God and the ends to which he will go to save them.  In a nutshell, people are exceedingly valuable and the birth of Christ is proof of their value to God. Additionally, if they are so valuable, it will be in HIS name that all oppression shall cease.

So to whom should people affected by disabilities look to see relief from oppression? I would agree with the song that it is those who worship Jesus, who follow Christ who should be the ones who make oppression in any form cease.  He taught us to love one another and through His life and death demonstrated the worth of people. People should feel compelled to look to the Christian church for relief from oppression. If they can't find it there, where then can they go?

We cannot be the ones who disappoint people about their value, their worth. We must be the place were people do not experience any form of oppression.  We need to be the place where they feel love, worth, peace, brotherhood. In particular, this should be the place where people with impairments feel that expression. We need to be a bastion of safety and value for them in an oppressive world.

Remember these things, please, as you sing this song this Christmas. In your heart, "fall on your knees" and both worship and demonstrate your belief that all people have incredible worth.

God bless,


  1. Wonderful song, one of my favorites! I love the way you have focused in on how we can relate it to our disabilities and our relationship and responsibility to those who are disabled. All have worth to Christ, and it is our job to showcase that. Thank You. Blessings, Shelly

  2. Anonymous3:13 PM

    I am so blessed to have read this. I need the daily reminder and encouragement from God to be a person who genuinely loves people. All people. It is humbling to read this particular blog because I can so often hear this song and never listen to what it is saying. I want to make sure I take the time to unconditionally love others the way He relentlessly loves me. When it says that “His law is love and His gospel is peace”, it reminds me that satisfaction and completeness comes from Jesus, so whether or not people know that peace, I can see how on earth it is shown through us. If we choose to reveal it. Again, I am joyous after reading this because no longer can I blame ignorance, but instead I must make a decision. The choice I will make is a “Yes” to loving people. I recognize God’s love for us, and through that I find our worth.

  3. Houston Spears10:35 PM

    Dr. McNair,
    I thought that you were very creative in tying oppression to people having disabilities. I often do not think about the hardships and "chains" that could and do hold some people with disabilities back. Personally, I do not realize how hard it actually is to have a disability because of all the mental, physical and social challenges of disabilities.
    This entry also hit home in my heart when you talked about the value of people to God, but not the value of some people but all people, disabled or not. As Christians we should especially know and remember that everyone is created equal, and no one person is better than the other. It is a responsibility as Christians, I feel, to love and show those with and with out disabilities the value they have in this world and to God. We are to bring people up, support, encourage and raise up those in need; show them the love and compassion God wants us to show and guide them out of the oppression they are in.

    Thank you

  4. Anonymous7:07 PM

    I love this and the way that you bring it back around to how we can apply this song to our life. It is nice to look at it in a new way and be able to use it in my everyday life. This song has always been a favorite of mine to sing and hear in church, yet I have never really broken down the words. I appreciate your heart for the disabled and the role of the church. Not all churches are so welcoming of people with disabilities but, like you said, they should be. Where else can they go to find relief if it is not through the church and those that follow Christ. Only Christ can give people the happiness they need and only through Him can they fully find their worth. They should be able to look to other believers for comfort and encouragement, not judgment and oppression. Those with disabilities should find relief and partnership with other believers so why do we not show them that? Why does the church not treat them equally? It is these unanswered questions that make me disappointed in the way that some churches are run. I want the church to be that escape for everyone to come to feel love, worth, peace, and brotherhood.

  5. Anonymous4:29 PM

    Not until reading this post had I truly read the lyrics to this Christmas favorite. As I read such powerful versus I felt the lines unravel into much deeper insights. The night Christ was born, a light so bright shone throughout the world. This light, which at first some feared, represented peace, love, truth and justice. As Isaiah 9:6 states, he came to be our Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. As human beings it is a peace that we continuously seek. Individuals with disabilities are not often exposed to that bright light that illuminates God’s love for all his children. As Christians we have a responsibility to work with our brothers and sisters and demonstrate that light of peace and love. A responsibility to empower the oppressed, and evoke self-worth. “We who are strong have an obligation to bear the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” Romans 15:1-2. We have an obligation to practice and demonstrate the word of the Lord. To empower, to be relief from oppression. If we work together we will not only demonstrate God’s love free from prejudice but the gospel of the Lord will shine even brighter attracting brothers and sisters who are lost in the dark. Indeed it was a Holy Night.


  6. This was a very powerful post Dr. Mcnair. It made me reflect on several things but what hit me the hardest was the fact that we here in America celebrate Christmas while there are so many people in our own communities that have no one to celebrate with. I've already known before but some reason it's makes me more sad than ever to think about that. My family has had some health problems lately so the possibility of losing several people and not celebrating the holidays with them ever again may be contributing to this but still. What a reminder of how much Christ loves us and wishes to relieve us of our suffering. Your are completely right when you say the church should be a place of refuge from oppression. It's unfortunate that it is not this way and so many Christians today are not making more of an effort to fight the oppression of others, myself included! Your class this semester has opened my eyes to so many things we as Christians need to do differently and this is just one more of those revelations. Thank you for redirecting where our hearts should be this holiday season with that classic Christmas song. Merry Christmas!