I didn’t become aware of the Christmas hymn In The Bleak Midwinter until I was an adult. It’s not one that you hear on the all-Christmas radio stations that start playing the hits at Thanksgiving and it seldom makes it into the Advent Sunday service hymn rotation. Even though it is a little obscure, it has become one of my favorites. The scene it sets, cold and frozen, is often where many of us find ourselves in the long dark winter of faith. Our hearts can feel frozen, empathy locked behind a sheet of ice. The burdens that weigh on our minds and hearts feel like the relentless winter wind. In a season of festivities and songs of good cheer; finding yourself in a place apart from celebration, perhaps a place of depression or financial instability, or a heart frozen by cynicism, can feel bleak and isolating.
The good news is that this song reminds us that everything doesn’t have to be perfect to be meaningful. The Christmas decorations can be a little wonky or not there at all and we are still invited to sing with the angels. We don’t have to have to be perfect Christians to receive Christ and be received by Christ. We come to the manger as we are and offer the only thing that Christ truly values…our hearts. Our heart may be frozen but given the opportunity, Christ can thaw it out.