“Chains will he break/ for the slave is our brother/ and in his name/ all oppression shall cease…” -O Holy Night
O Holy Night has always been one of my favorite Christmas carols. Every lyric resonates within me–the hope for a weary world, the discovery of the worth of our soul, the birth of our Savior. The message of the song is incredible, but there’s one line I always gloss over.
When I used to sing “chains will he break, for the slave is our brother,” I would think back to hundreds of years ago. I would think back to slavery in America in the 17th and 18th century. I would sing the lines, not with a hope for the future, but with a thankfulness for what seemed to be a problem solved–an issue of the past. However, the problem is not solved. An estimated 27 million slaves are in bondage around the world today. And it’s not just somewhere else. It’s here. It’s in the U.S. It’s in Los Angeles. It’s not even just people from other countries. Girls from Los Angeles neighborhoods–girls you may have gone to school with–are forced into sex slavery every day.
It’s so, so much more common than anyone realizes. The majority of those prostitutes you see out on the streets in Los Angeles are not there by choice. They are forced through physical and mental manipulation. They have what is called, “a chain around the brain.” Oppression and slavery exist today, all around us; it’s just hidden. Because we don’t see the physical chains, we sing the lyrics to ‘O Holy Night’ with a quick glance to our past and a brief recollection of the images we saw in our history books.
However, as I’m realizing the weight and the magnitude of this problem–of this evil–I realize the weight of these words. This problem seems so overwhelming. It’s so easy to get discouraged in the face of all we have to do. It feels as if nothing can change. That’s when these words resonate with me. “Chains shall he break.” I can’t do this on my own, we can do this on our own–but we’re not on our own. We have Jesus. He’s alive and he’s always with us.
Christmas this year is a reminder to me that he was here. Jesus took on human flesh and became one of us to save us, to set us free. He came once, and he is coming back again. One day, tears will be no more, injustice will be no more; and we will all be free.
In his name, all oppression shall cease.
“He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” -Revelation 22:20