By Kelly Wright
“Let earth receive her King!”
The opening line to Joy to the World is a bold declaration: “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” It’s a difficult line to follow, and the second line, “Let earth receive her King,” can be easily overlooked and dismissed. But this year, that statement has captured my attention.
Let earth receive her King.
The word “receive” has struck me.
The definition of receive is not spectacular, but simply put, is to be given something.
Paraphrasing this line might go something like this: Let the earth be filled with joy because Jesus has been given to the world.
Think of a time when receiving something has caught your attention.
For me, the first experience that comes to mind was a few years ago, when I attended a church service with a friend. This church had different traditions than what I was used to, with the biggest being how communion was served. My tradition usually took communion in one of two ways: by passing the communion wafers and cups across the aisles or by going forward and taking bread from the loaf and dipping it in juice.
At this church, when I reached out my hand to take the bread, the pastor smiled, shook her head, motioned for me to open my hands, and then proceeded to give the bread to me. At this church instead of taking communion, I received it. Simple and subtle difference, but profoundly significant.
That day I realized that I am much more comfortable taking than receiving. There a sense of control with taking. Taking is more on my terms.
With receiving, there’s vulnerability.
To receive communion, I needed to have open hands. However, my usual stance in life is not open hands, but closed.
This experience made me wonder how I’m receiving or taking Jesus.
Many times, I approach my relationship with Jesus in a taking stance. I want to feel like I’m in control. To be honest, I want Jesus to stay in the passenger seat of my life and not in the driver’s seat. I want to lead my life the way I want to and I want Jesus to nod and give His blessing. I’m more comfortable with taking than receiving.
But I’m realizing that taking is not only controlling, but exhausting.
God’s invitation to us all is to receive.
Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
This invitation from Jesus is all about receiving. If we come to Jesus with our burdens and cares, He will give us rest in exchange. When I consider these words from Jesus I find myself comforted and taking a big deep breath.
Jesus assures us that His yoke is easy, and he encourages us to take up His yoke rather than struggling with our own burdens. This, too, is a receiving kind of invitation – like Jesus is saying to open our hands and receive His guidance and direction. Not to feel overburdened by trying to take responsibility for everything that comes with life. I love the words easy and light. Don’t they just sound invitational to receive something sweet and life-giving?
When Jesus came into the world over two thousand years ago, He freely gave His life to be one of us and to die for all of us. God gave His one and only son as a precious gift to all, a gift to receive with open hands, open hearts, and a willingness to follow Him.
Where is God inviting you to receive Him this Advent season?