“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2: 8-14 (KJV)
Family traditions come and go. As I grow older and my family either dies or moves away, but there is one thing that I still like to do during Advent; dust off the King James Bible and read Luke 2:1-18 and be reminded of how the Birth of Jesus was first read to me as a child. I remember when my congregation switched from the KJV to the NASB and then the NIV and now the ESV and am reminded how much my soul misses hearing it in the KJV.
The child in the attached photo attends the Lutheran School and Church in Ouanaminthe and listens to story of the Birth of Jesus in French. Verse 11 proclaims “Un Sauveur vous est né aujourd'hui dans la ville de David; c'est lui le Messie, le Seigneur.” This child learns that born this day in the city of David is a Savior. A savior that will protect her and rescue her from death, the devil and the vodou priest; Christ the Lord is His name. Martin Luther wrote the fifteen verses of the hymn ‘From Heaven Above to Earth I Come’ in German in 1535. An inkwell, a pen, several sheets of paper and a servant of the Lord spent countless hours to bless us with these words to this Advent hymn.
“From heaven above to earth I come to bear good news to every home; glad tidings of great joy I bring, whereof I now will say and sing: To you this night is born a child of Mary, chosen virgin mild; this little child, of lowly birth, shall be the joy of all the earth. This is the Christ, our God and Lord, who in all need shall aid afford; He will Himself your Savior be from all your sins to set you free. He will on you the gifts bestow prepared by God for all below, that in His kingdom, bright and fair, you may with us His glory share. These are the tokens ye shall mark: the swaddling-clothes and manger dark; there ye shall find the Infant laid by whom the heavens and earth were made. Now let us all with gladsome cheer go with the shepherds and draw near to see the precious gift of God, Who hath His own dear Son bestowed. Give heed, my heart, lift up thine eyes! What is it in yon manger lies? Who is this child, so young and fair? The blessed Christ-child lieth there. Welcome to earth, Thou noble Guest, through whom the sinful world is blest! Thou com'st to share my misery; what thanks shall I return to Thee? Ah, Lord, who hast created all, how weak art Thou, how poor and small, that Thou dost choose Thine infant bed where humble cattle lately fed! Were earth a thousand times as fair, beset with gold and jewels rare, it yet were far too poor to be a narrow cradle, Lord, for Thee. For velvets soft and silken stuff thou hast but hay and straw so rough, whereon Thou, King, so rich and great, as 'twere Thy heaven, art throned in state. And thus, dear Lord, it pleaseth Thee to make this truth quite plain to me, that all the world's wealth, honor, might, are naught and worthless in Thy sight. Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child, make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled, within my heart, that it may be a quiet chamber kept for Thee. My heart for very joy doth leap, my lips no more can silence keep; I, too, must sing with joyful tongue that sweetest ancient cradle-song: Glory to God in highest heaven, Who unto us His Son hath given! While angels sing with pious mirth a glad new year to all the earth.”
Dear Heavenly Father, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.
May God be with you…Jay