It’s that time of year again! We can’t stop it if we try, so we may as well jump on the Christmas preparation train and see where it leads. This week for our Music Monday time we’ll pick up an old familiar hymn. This hymn was first written as a poem and later put into song form about fourteen years later. The poem turned song was intended to help the Christian to understand teh power of the reality of Christmas. It demonstrates one of the core truths of the Christian faith – the incarnation.
This big, churchy word is actually very simple in meaning but complex in understanding. The idea behind the incarnation is that God in all of his fullness became man in all of his weakness yet didn’t lose any of his God-ness. You see simple and yet complex! The fun paradox of being a follower of Jesus isn’t it! In the original poem and later in the hymn version, we read in verse two something that really drives at the heart of what this whole incarnation business is all about.
Christ, by highest heaven adored:
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, th’incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!
Take a look at the middle lines, the ones in bold type. These two lines are what we encounter on Christmas. It’s a baby. Yes! But it’s also God. Yes! All of the stuff that makes God – God was packaged into the tiny baby born in Bethlehem. Just think of it for a minute, and if you have children this is even more special. When children are born something happens in the hearts of the parents. We become different people. A little piece of us melts as we hear that first cry and see that distorted little face. We lose sleep. We miss meals. Our bank accounts drain a little, ok a lot faster! But inside that baby is the perfect combination of mom and dad. It’s the DNA of the father and the DNA of the mother combined in a way that science can only hope to explain. When the child is born we say things like O she has her mother’s eyes! or Wow he’s got his daddy’s nose.
When we look at the baby Jesus, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, what do we see? Do we see his mother’s eyes? Or his daddy’s nose? No we see the human-ness of his mom and the God-ness of his Father. Jesus was more than a man. And more than God. He was both…at the same time…yet never giving up either one. It seems impossible but it’s true. This hymn of praise that leads us to Christmas morning was an attempt to look at that baby as the perfect combination of His earthly mom and His heavenly Father. All of heaven came down to earth and filled that little child. All of the glory of God was veiled right in front of us. Looking back and seeing the story of Jesus’ life, we can see it. Right in front of us.
Take a moment to start your Christmas journey off on the right foot. I guess as you listen to this song you could say that Christmas is about the presence, the presence of God in man. The presence we call Jesus.