Friday, December 9, 2016

Music of Advent - What Child is This

Week 2, Friday—Luke 1:51-53

What Child is This by William C. Dix, 1865

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.

This beautiful hymn of the babe of Bethlehem helps us keep things in perspective.  This child is not born in a palace, where boy kings might be found.  It was not in the home of the wealthy, where children of status might be found.  This child was found in hay, next to cows and donkeys.  This child was born to homeless, immigrant parents; his mother was most likely seen as a woman of questionable character.

This child was heralded by the angelic choir, but the angels missed a turn, because they ended up giving their Hallelujah Chorus concert to dirty, nomadic sheepherders, who slept with their livestock, something they had in common with the child of the stable.  And then this child’s royal guards were those same shepherds who left their flocks—their livelihood—and went to see what the angels had been singing about. 

This story is so upside down it is right-side up.  As Mary sang, “God has brought the lofty down and raised the lowly up.”  It is something we forget to notice when we talk about Jesus, King of Kings, Savior of the World, Majesty, Lord.  We like these titles because they make us feel like we are part of the in crowd.  There are even t-shirts for children that say “I am a child of a King,” which I think gives them entirely the wrong idea, unfortunately. 

In proper perspectives we are servants who follow an unemployed, drifter going from town to town proclaiming a radical message of rebellion.  He hung out with the poor, the unclean, the shady characters of his time.  You know, something we would frown upon from our lofty positions. 

This Christmas, let us remember the places once again.  The powerful are brought down, and the lowly shall be lifted.  Which place are you going to be?  This question is an important one that only you can answer for yourself.  Who do you side with when social justice issues arise?  When there are marginalized or oppressed peoples, where are you to be found?  While others are standing against injustice, what are you doing? 

What child is this that we follow?  May we prepare our hearts to receive the lowly child of the manger this Christmas.

He has brought down the powerful from
their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.
Luke 1:52

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