Tag Archives: Christ Jesus

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.

ours for the asking

O come, O come, Emanuel
and ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel
Shall come to thee,
O Israel!

I literally hear a stringed orchestration of this song in my head when I read the title.

Beautiful

Haunting

A song about preparing

A song about waiting

And one of my favorites

As I read through the lyrics again, the music (again, in my head) pours over me and I feel hope.

2954f38ee615dc90269b6b4a24201813This song reminds me that hope doesn’t always mean that all is well. Hope doesn’t always mean we are on the right path or that everything will be okay. There wouldn’t be a need for hope if it were.

Hope is the sense that words like right, well, peace and wholeness are possible, but not right now.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11

The mournful sound of this song doesn’t gloss over the harshness of our world nor does the yearning downplay the sure and certain hope of God-with-us, light that puts dark to flight and peace for all creation. This song, more than any other for me, captures this state of in-between-ness. We’re caught between the hurt and the healing, the despair and hope  and the waiting for and seeing God’s Kingdom.

It’s when I listen to these words during the long, dark hours of winter (nights like this):

O come, O come, Emanuel
and ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel
Shall come to thee,
O Israel!

My heart cries right along with it and those tears are as healing as the waters of baptism.

My challenge to you: listen to those words again in a version more to your liking. Join the generations that weep for los and long for hope. Know that despite of all that we see and experience here, this isn’t our final destination. Ask God to make that abundantly clear to you this holiday season.

O come, O come, Emanuel

—And if you’d like to “hear” what I often hear in my head…take a look at this arrangement by one of my favorite groups: The Piano Guys.

12. trials and change

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1.2-4

characterI am thankful for the fact that I am a W.I.P.

A “work in progress.”

And I am thankful that I don’t have to go through this transformation all in one shot:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1.6

This has been a trying year for me…one full of financial strain, relational issues, situations I had gotten myself into that left me wondering how on earth I’d ever get out, forgiveness, redemption, renewal and joy.

Yes, joy.

I have to include that as I am happier now than I’ve been in a long time. Now, don’t get me wrong. My days aren’t perfect nor are they magically full of rainbows and sunshine.

Joy is a choice I make upon pulling the covers back each morning and, at times, with each passing moment. And it’s hard.

Is it ever!

Truth is, I’m faced with trials that allow me to grow with each passing day. From trying callers at work to a friend who cancels last minute, I’m faced with the choice of joyfully extending grace or being what I like to call a “negative ninny.” I do not like what the latter does to my heart (or my day). I despise it, actually.

It’s easy to fall back into old patterns and habits rather than allowing Jesus to change the way I react in certain situations.

How many times am I faced with a tough (and sometimes not so tough) situation and immediately pray for God to fix it? How many times do I ask Him to make it go away without seeking out His Word or asking Him to help me walk through it?

How about when He answers in a way I don’t like?

“Not yet.”

“Not that way.”

“’Wait.”

“Keep doing what you’re doing, Anita, and wait.”

Or, my personal favorite: “Why don’t you spend time with me instead?” How convicting is that?

Most of the time, I know what God wants me to do…I just don’t want to do it; at least not in that moment.

How about you?  I know I’m not alone in this. We all deal with it. We all struggle with trials and most of us fight change to no end.

We must learn to seek His face first, in any and all situations. We also have to be willing to listen to His answer and to obey. We must consider it pure joy when we face any trial, especially when it changes us. “The new creation has come…The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

We cannot escape the trials and temptations we go through in life. Though they are hard to endure, they develop endurance and patience within us. We need to let these be developed in our lives so that we may become what God intended us to be, lacking nothing. In knowing this, we can consider it joyful because of what is developed in us as a result. That mindset is hard to grasp, but when you look beyond the trial and understand the purpose of it, what it accomplishes in us should be considered joyful.

I am not the girl I was a year ago. Granted, she’s still there as she’s a part of who I am becoming, but God has since touched my heart and has left me forever changed, moment by ever-chaning moment. And I know that change will continue…that’s  one guarantee I can hold on to.

And for that, my friends and family, I am grateful.

trials