Christmas should be one of the deepest and most meaningful times of the year. It is the celebration of God’s ultimate, self-giving intervention into human history.
While there are many songs that express the joy and wonder of this incredible event, my mind keeps going back to an unlikely hymn:
Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.
King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.
Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.
(Liturgy of St. James, 4th century, translated by Gerard Moultrie)
It was during a Christmas Eve service last year that I heard this hymn sung. It is located in our hymnal with communion songs, and yet it is really about God taking on human flesh for us and for our salvation. The hymn is appropriate as a celebration of God’s in-carn-ation—God’s enfleshment.
In the midst of gifts, parties and decorations, my prayer for all of us is that we find the deepest possible Christmas celebration. We should know as fully as possible that God loves us, that God invites us to be Christ’s disciples and that God seeks a world filled with peace and good will toward all.
Many of us will experience conflicts in our families, difficulties in our jobs, financial pressures and other difficulties of life. We also will experience the love of our families, blessings in our work and many good things in our lives.
In the midst of life’s highs and lows, a deep relationship with the sacrificial love of God will guide us, sustain us, support us and empower us to be God’s people on earth.
May you have a deeply blessed Christmas!