Cover Story
New Year's Perspective:
Good News is Here, Hope is Strong

During this Christmas season I sang with a Holston congregation the hymn, “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.” I’ve sung it many times before but far too casually. This time the words stunned me with incredible witness:

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
whose forms are bending low, who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow, look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing, O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing!

Those words speak to my soul. My awakened heart cries out in affirmation. What good news for those “beneath life’s crushing load.”What hope for those “who toil along the way… with painful steps.” What comfort to be invited to “rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing!”

My dear sisters and brothers, I pray in this New Year that you will always listen to voices of angels. There will be other voices – harsh, hateful and spiteful voices. But God has a message for us. The angels sing it: “There is rest. There is hope and joy. There is comfort along the frightful path we trod.”

If we really believed the words of this song, it would be difficult to sing them, offer the benediction and go home as the same people.

I was tempted on that Sunday to stand on the pew and urge the congregation to sing those words again, as if for the first time. To believe them. To be transformed by them. To incarnate them and share them. I wanted to cry out, “It’s not business as usual. God has come! Angels are singing. Good news is here. Hope is strong.”

I affirm again, unabashedly and confidently, that there is good news for those beneath life’s crushing load. God invites us to join the angels in spreading the message.

By Ray W. Chamberlain Jr.
Resident Bishop

January 4, 2002 Issue

Best of 2001
A collection of the conference’s most memorable photos from the past year.
Pages 4, 5 & 8

Shoes & More Shoes
Holston churches gather more than 100,000 pairs of shoes to help Afghan refugees. Page 3

Nation & World
Methodist news from outside the conference.
Pages 6 & 7

They love us, they love us not. More from our readers about The Call’s recent change in format. Page 2

Bishop's Conference
The Bishop’s Conference on Starting New Congregations will take place Jan. 24-25. Page 2

Unless otherwise noted, all articles written by Annette Spence Bender

The Call Available in Bulk Quantities

We’ve hoped for some time to offer subscriptions to The Call, Holston’s newspaper, in bulk quantities for churches who wish to place them in the Narthex, bulletins, Sunday School classes, etc. Subscriptions are available in quantities of 50, 100 and 200 copies at a significantly reduced rate. For more information, please contact Annette Bender, editor of The Call, at


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