The proem to the poem of humanity
Was set against the backdrop of captivity,
Was cast with souls encumbered by profanity,
Was opened not with pomp but with nativity.
The word, the light, the lion-lamb, the majesty
Of heaven, holiness in his humility,
Appeared in righteousness to end the amnesty
And fix final salvation from futility.
The method of his advent seemed absurdity
To those who thought they knew the king’s priority,
Yet as the virgin held mortal eternity,
The world beheld the hope of our infirmity.
And all the damned ones shuddered as the surety
Of justice came in love to face depravity,
To bear the curse of sin and give security
That God will satisfy creation’s cavity.
So hope. His coming heralds a community
Where sin will not be suffered – there immunity
From falling from his presence. Perfect unity
Of love will lead to worship of triunity.
You give us the ability to give,
For all we have to give, in truth, is yours.
The very breath we breathe, the days we live,
Our daily bread — each comes from heaven’s stores.
Lord, let us not forget that all is grace,
That we have earned not one of all our joys,
And let us fix our eyes upon your face
Above all earthly troubles, tasks, and toys.
Forgive us when we want more than your love,
And fit us to receive and be content.
Yours is the universe and all thereof.
The proof of your provision is Advent.
In thanks, we rest and look toward the Son,
Dependent on the independent one.
Preeminent yet immanent, the Christ,
The holy word, the light, the lion-lamb,
Emptied himself to soon be sacrificed
In order to redeem and not to damn
The sin-stained souls of all who would believe
In heaven’s gift of peace and righteousness.
The angels sing! Rejoice, all you who grieve!
The Lord has come this day to save, to bless!
Behold the babe born to our soil and sod,
The timeless son translated into time,
The image of the invisible God,
The all transcendent Lord’s audible rhyme.
The infant in the manger you now see?
Upholder of the universe is he.
Last week, I wrote that the word of God discerns in us what we fail to discern ourselves, and I tried to show how this cutting work serves to draw us nearer to God. But what do we do when God reveals idolatry in our hearts? How should we respond when God highlights some object or dream or comfort or person and reveals to us our unhealthy attachment? The answer, I think, lies in how we understand gifts.
Five dollars may not mean that much to you,
And Lincoln’s face may never make you smile.
Casa Ole may never come in view.
You may think eating trash is not your style.
Your Christmas gift may never have been placed
Inside a colored bag upon the tree.
And you, poor soul, may never know the taste
Of Hello Dollies shared with family.
These memories are blessings to the mind,
And thoughts of them do always warm the heart,
For our Mema and Grandad, always kind,
Have played in all our lives the sweetest part.
With thankfulness these words could never say,
We celebrate our Mema’s life today.
We place our memories upon the tree
Along with colored lights and tinsel spheres,
Traditions carried on through many years
Displayed for ev’ry passerby to see.
Together with our friends and family
We celebrate the end of earthly fears
Proclaimed by angels unto shepherd ears,
The Gospel passed along to you and me.
As days pass by, these trees are brought and burned.
We gather ’round the bonfire and are warmed
As friends and fam’ly fellowship again.
More blessed still, the God whom we have spurned
Has sent his son to save the world he formed,
And in our songs, this truth is our refrain.
A mother’s cries are echoed by her child,
Their voices piercing through the quiet night.
The newborn son has entered undefiled
To save the sinful souls from their own plight.
His coming was foretold in days of old,
His presence was announced by angel songs.
The shepherds, upon hearing, left their fold
To worship him to whom all praise belongs.
No other child so greatly changed the world.
No other king could rival this one’s worth,
For in this son the plan of God unfurled:
God stepped into this broken world by birth.
Salvation’s story shone this holy day.
The spotless lamb entered into the fray.
The greatest gift of all was born –
The gift of Christmas presence:
The God-man facing scorn and thorn
To save the sinful peasants.
Unto a race which cried for blood
Christ Jesus came fulfilling
The Father’s plan foretold in flood,
Worked out in Christ’s own killing.
But death of son meant death of sin.
The devil was defeated.
Christ’s rising brought new life to men,
And God will not be cheated.
So let the gospel ring this year
In ev’ry celebration,
And speak with joy to ev’ry ear
Of peace to ev’ry nation.
In the book of Daniel, we read of a handful of God-fearing men who were taken from their homeland and were brought to Babylon to be trained for service to the king. Because of their devotion to the Lord, these men stood out from their peers in wisdom and understanding (Daniel 1:17-21), earning them high places before the king. The stories of how God used these men are extraordinary, so it’s no surprise that many of us learned these stories in Sunday School classes and Vacation Bible Schools growing up. Yet these stories are not just for children.