Daily Archives: December 21, 2013

Favorite Carols: the greatest mystery

What Child is this, who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring Him laud – the Babe, the Son of Mary.

Another of my favorite carols, What Child is This brings with it a new, deeper understanding of Christ’s birth with each passing year.

The same question asked in this well-loved carol must have been uppermost in the minds of those present at Jesus’ birth.

What makes this child any different from every other child born to man? What makes him so special?

We can almost hear the plethora of questions the shepherds, wise men and people of Jesus’ day may have asked. We’d be asking them too if we walked a mile in their shoes.

We still ask those questions, and probably more, today.

Throughout the centuries, men have pondered and continue to ask who Jesus really is.

How could he be fully God and fully man?

Is it even possible?

Only through the divine comes the truest answer. Only through God’s Word and the indwelling of His Spirit comes the answer.

This thoughtful text/carol was written by William C. Dix, one of our finest lay hymn writers. While he was a successful insurances salesman in Glasgow, Scotland, he was stricken with a sudden serious illness at the age of 29.

My age…

If that isn’t inspiring…

Dix was confined to a bed for an extended period of time and suffered deep depression until he called out to God and met Him in a new and very real way.

It was out of that spiritual experience that he wrote many artistic and distinctive hymns, including this delightful carol.  It was taken from a longer Christmas poem, “The Manger Throne,” penned by Dix in 1865 and applied to the melody of “Greensleeves” shortly after.

May you find the answers to your questions when it comes to Christ Jesus this Christmas. Spend some extra time in His Word and ask that His Spirit reveal the truth of who He is to you.

traditions: holiday movies

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’… Linus, A Charlie Brown Christmas

I’m a huge fan of Christmas movies. Other than your typical, run of the mill chick flicks or rom-coms, Christmas movies are by far probably my favorite to watch.

My current favorites list includes classics like:

1. Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer
2. Frosty the Snowman
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas
4. Home Alone I & II
5. A Christmas Carol
6. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

…just to name a few.

I’m also a sucker for sappy, holiday Hallmark movies and those that originally aired on Fa-La-La-La-Lifetime years ago. In spite of the similar story lines (i.e. girl is with wrong guy, guy dumps girl – who is now single for the holidays (*eyes rolling here), girl meets new guy or great guy who has been there all along, he saves the day, they fall in love, end) and some of the cheesiness (I freely admit), I still enjoy them. There is some element about a good Christmas story that warms the cockles of my heart.

But, these stories are just that….

Stories

They can’t top or beat the awe-inspiring, show-stopping story of Jesus and how he came to be on earth. Even The Nativity, which came out a couple of years ago, can’t top that. Hollywood will never be able to capture or top the incomprehensible. Only God can.

Two thousand years ago, God became man; a baby. He allowed himself to be confined to our finiteness; in human flesh. He walked more than a mile in our shoes – he lived 33 years in them! He felt emotions the way we do. He experienced life the way we do. He felt grief and happiness. He died a horrible death on a cross even though he had done nothing wrong. He lived. He breathed his last. He arose.

…and set us captives free!

If you’ve never read the Bible front to back, I highly encourage you to do so. I try to read it through each year and will be doing so again in 2014. It’s a story that compares to no other and I encourage you to read it with a fresh, new mindset. Try imagining as if you’re reading it for the first time. You never know what God will show you.

December 21: ancient of days

The Pilate said to him, “So are you a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” John 18.37

This is a great Christmas text even though it comes from the end of Jesus’ life on earth, not the beginning.

The uniqueness of his birth is that he did not originate at his birth. He existed before he was born in a manger. The personhood, the character, the personality of Jesus of Nazareth existed before the man Jesus of Nazareth was born.

The theological word to describe this mystery is not creation, but incarnation. The person – not the body, but the essential personhood of Jesus – existed before he was born as man. His birth was not a coming into being of a new person, but a coming into the world of an infinitely old person.

Micah 5.2 puts it like this, 700 years before Jesus was born:

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from old, from ancient days.

The mystery of the birth of Jesus is not merely that he was born of a virgin. That miracle was intended by God to witness an even greater one – namely, that the child born at Christmas was a person who existed “from of old, from ancient days.”

© Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org