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What Child Is This?

nativity scene illustration

The question asked in this well-loved carol must have been uppermost in the minds of those present at Jesus’ birth. We can almost hear the question being asked from one to another as they gazed into the humble manger. How difficult it must have been for them to understand that the babe who lay in “such mean estate” was truly the promised Messiah. And through the centuries men have continued to ponder who Christ really is-how can He be fully God and still fully man? Only through divine faith comes the revealed answer.

He who is the Bread of Life began His ministry hungering. He who is the Water of Life ended His ministry thirsty. Christ hungered as man, yet fed the multitudes as God. He was weary, yet He is our rest. He prayed, yet He hears prayers. He was sold for 30 pieces of silver, yet He redeems sinners. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, yet He is the Good Shepherd. He died, and by dying destroyed death. -Unknown

How beautifully the triumphant answer to this imposing question bursts forth in the refrain-“This, this is Christ the King.”

This thoughtful text was written by William C. Dix, one of our finest lay hymn writers. While a successful insurance salesman in Glasgow, Scotland, he was stricken with a sudden serious illness at the age of 29. Dix was confined to bed for an extended period and suffered deep depression until he called out to God and “met Him in a new and real way.” Out of this spiritual experience came many artistic and distinctive hymns, including this delightful carol. It was taken from a longer Christmas poem, “The Manger Throne,” written by William Dix about 1865. The melody “Greensleeves” is a traditional English folk tune.

“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?

Why lies He in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear — for sinners here the silent Word is pleading.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh-come, rich and poor, to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings — let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Chorus: This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud — the Babe, the Son of Mary.”

 

Wants vs. Need

by Laura MacCorkle, crosswalk.com

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas today? Or did you get what you needed?

What we want and what we need do not often go hand in hand. I should know. There are things that I have wanted in my life for a long time now, that apparently the Lord has not seen to be necessities. At least not yet.

I know he knows what is best for me, but it is still hard to wait. And it is difficult not to look longingly at what others have received and wonder why I, too, cannot be the recipient of such things in my life.

This kind of struggle is not new to any of us. And Hannah, who we read about in the first chapter of 1 Samuel, is a great example of how to live when what you want is not yet something God says you need.

For years Hannah had wanted to become a mother. To bear a child. To give her husband, Elkanah, a son—just like his other wife, Peninnah.

Being barren was considered a disgrace for a woman in those times, so Hannah most likely felt ashamed and alone and perhaps like a societal outcast. Instead of turning away, though, Hannah took her sorrow and her request for what she wanted to the Lord.

We don’t know for sure how long she waited (perhaps years)—and we don’t know the exact purposes of God’s timing in her life—but we can still learn a great deal from Hannah’s example …

She was persistent and continually sought the Lord. She did not give up and stop asking the Lord for what she wanted. Like clockwork, Hannah kept bringing her request to God, year after year at the temple in Shiloh (v. 7). No doubt her want continued to drive her to the Father and most likely deepened her relationship with him.

She was blessed with a lifeline. I am quick to forget that the beauty in the midst of Hannah’s pain is that Elkanah loved her very dearly (if not more than Peninnah). I am sure this buoyed Hannah to make it through the years when she may have wondered if God would ever answer her prayer for a child. God was gracious in giving her a loving husband (v. 5, 8).

She did not give in to ridicule or naysayers. Even when Peninnah (who was fruitful and had children) provoked her and taunted her because she was barren, Hannah did not add insult to injury (v. 7). She did not become nasty and retaliate when ridiculed for her condition or her faith.

She shared her “want”  and was encouraged by others. When the high priest Eli observed Hannah praying in the temple and inquired as to her condition (he thought she was intoxicated because she was praying silently, but her lips were moving—v. 14), she shared with him what she was asking of the Lord. When Eli saw what was really going on, he encouraged her and asked God to answer her request (vv. 12-17).

She gave back to God what he had given to her. When God blessed Hannah with a child, she did not cling tightly to him. She kept her promise, let her son go and dedicated him to the Lord (v. 11, vv.21-28). How unbelievable is that? To accept and then release back to God something he has given to you that you have prayed and prayed and prayed for? That is model faith!

Like Hannah, are you waiting on the Lord to give you something you want in your life today? A new job? Reconciliation in your marriage? Blessing in your finances? A cure from illness? To find your soul mate? Victory over an addiction? A baby?

Each of us has something we want in our lives. But is up to God to decide if this is something we really need. May we continue to come to him with joy and thankfulness, as we acknowledge that he knows what is best for us in our lives.

 

A Christmas Prayer of Praise to the Son

SARAH GERINGER, author, crosswalk.com

“And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.” 1 John 5:20 (NLT)

On this Christmas Day, we praise You, Jesus, as the Son of God.

Before the creation of the world, You were set apart by the Father for a unique mission.
You are our Messiah, the One sent to save us.

As Immanuel, God with us, the One through whom all things were created,
You chose to lie in a manger and die on a cross for us.
You willingly laid aside your majesty to come down into our world.

By believing in You, we have the gift of eternal life.
How amazing is Your power and glory!
May we always hold You in awe as the Son of God.

We praise You, Jesus, as the Son of David.

Your birth was foretold by many prophets who never saw You with their eyes,
but received truth about You through the Holy Spirit.
The Father preserved Your birthright generation after generation.
He fulfilled His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
to give them countless descendants who would follow You.

You are the Lion of Judah, a King forever in the line of David.
Though You did not establish an earthly rule as many hoped,
You transcended those hopes with a universal kingdom to last for all time.

You are the fulfillment of countless prophecies, prayers and dreams.
May we always honor You as the Son of David.

We praise You, Jesus, as the Son of Man.

The Son of Joseph, a humble carpenter from Nazareth
who chose the path not traveled and proved himself faithful.
The Son of Mary, a young virgin of steadfast faith
who felt You turn in her womb and watched You suffer on a cross.
The Son who impressed teachers of the law
and amazed His parents even as a child.

The Son who understands our weaknesses
and faced all the tests we face yet never sinned.
The Son destined to cause many to fall and many to rise,
opposed without cause yet glorified above all.

As the Son of Man, now You are seated at God’s right hand,
offering prayers for us day and night as the Great High Priest.

You are the stairway between heaven and earth,
the only way we have access to the Father.
You are coming back on the clouds of heaven to give us eternal life.
May we always revere You as the Son of Man.

This Christmas Day, may our thoughts be fixed on You, Jesus.
May we believe in You as the only true God, the Lord over our lives.
May we trust You with all our hurts and hopes.

May we walk in fellowship with You, knowing you perfectly understand us.
May we rejoice in your birth and resurrection,
looking forward to the day when we will see You face to face.

In Your Name we pray, Amen.

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