Monday, December 15, 2014

Sing Christmas: Dec 15

Hark, the herald-angels sing
glory to the new-born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with the angelic host proclaim,
'Christ is born in Bethlehem.'

Hark, the herald-angels sing
glory to the new-born King.

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, the incarnate Deity,
pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace:
hail, the Sun of Righteousness.
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die,
born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth.

Charles Wesley 1707-88, George Whitfield 1714-70,
Martin Madan 1726-90, and others.

This carol has been much altered since Charles Wesley originally wrote it (with ten verses! and a request that it be set to a solemn tune. It’s probably just as well that others got their hands on it and changed it, reducing the verses to the three we know, and giving it the upbeat tune to which it is now sung, written by Mendelssohn.
It is a celebration of the Incarnation, the belief that in Christ we see God’s very essence. That essence may be “veiled in flesh” but that does not lessen its glory. The truly wonderful thing, according to Wesley, is that Jesus’ birth changes everything, giving us “second birth”. We receive a new start in his love; we are reconciled to God and to one another. His resurrection will defeat death for us all. He is the one who will show us that nothing can separate us from God’s love, and it all starts here, as “Christ is born in Bethlehem”.

·         Wesley celebrates reconciliation, the bringing together of God and humanity, of people with one another. Where in your life do you need reconciliation this Advent? Are there people you have fallen out with? Have you fallen out with God?
·         What is the “second birth”, the new start you long for?

Bible Reading: St Paul said: “Christ is our peace; in his flesh he has made Jews and Gentiles into one, and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” Ephesians 2.14

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