Thursday, December 10, 2015

LSB 370 What Child is This?

LSB 370 What Child is This?

Isaiah's Ornament on our Christmas Tree 

Credit: Heidi Perling
Ever noticed that grief compounds? It’s collective. You feel sad about today’s hurt; and suddenly you’re thinking about grief from decades or years or months ago. You hurt now, but you remember Grandma, and that uncle, that child… and the pain still feels fresh.
And holidays can intensify all those feelings. Grief has a way of shattering the possibility of a “Holly, Jolly Christmas”. It’s hard to feel like this is the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” when what you want most is time with someone you loved.
I know. My husband and I lost our little boy about eleven years ago. (More of the story is here, if you’re interested: ) He was born very prematurely… the day after Christmas. Although the sadness has lost intensity over the years, our memories of him are still mingled with memories of Christmas celebrations. Sometimes it’s impossible to separate the two.
It’s really no use pretending we’re not sad, or faking “joyful” feelings for the sake of sparing our other children. They can see right through any pretending we do. We decided from the start to be honest with them about what had happened, and to find comfort together in knowing WHY Jesus came. It wasn’t just so we could have pretty scenes on Christmas cards, or sing familiar carols every year. He didn’t come “for the children” or so we could all muster up some feelings of good will for a week or two in winter.
He came because people die. Grandmas die; and babies die; and everyone sometime has to face that. There’s absolutely nothing we can do to stop it or make things right.
So God became human. To experience what we experience; to feel what we feel; yes. But especially to FIX the death problem.
That baby in a manger was on a journey to the cross, through the grave, and into life. He was on a quest to reach us, to love us, and to heal us. He came to give us (and our loved ones) life. That’s a big deal! And it means we can sing even through tears:
Hail, the heav’n-born Prince of Peace! Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings, Ris’n 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.
Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”
Heidi is a Lutheran pastor’s wife and homeschooling mom to three wonderful girls. She strives to live simply and generously, which has led to a year-long decluttering journey. She blogs at Give Away Seven a Day and you can find her on Twitter too.
Originally posted as a guest post at

What Child is This is one of my favorite hymns of all time in general as it brings Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and our LORD's Reign in Heaven all into three poignant minutes.  It is no surprise that most commercial renditions of this song skip right over verse two.  The Nails and the Spear have no place in the world's Christmas, but that is exactly why God's people must be all the more insistent on the wood of the manger and the wood of the cross.

There is so much more to "Keeping Christ in Christmas" than insisting on Merry Christmas as a greeting during these days, though that is something.  Believing in the Christ who came takes full account of God crossing all boundaries to take on our flesh and blood in servant humility. He binds our every wound. He embraces all evil, pain, hurt, sin and finally death to disarm its power and leave it all with literally nothing to do and no where to go. Only then, to Rise up in Resurrection Life and beckon one more time, "Follow Me."

Luke 2:6-7
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
John 1:14 
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Philippians 2:5-8 
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Isaiah 53:3-6
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
John 19:34, 37 
But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.
And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”
Matthew 2:1-11
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way.
And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.