home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > 24th December > WHAT CHILD IS THIS?

WHAT CHILD IS THIS?

One of the reasons every Christian who deeply loves Jesus the Christ should be thrilled around Advent and Christmas is that the songs that are sung and heard at this time – in churches and shopping malls – are among the most profound theological statements and descriptions of the glorious Christ ever penned! While we sing Hark! The Herald angels sing! as a Christmas carol, when Charles Wesley wrote it in 1739, he wrote it as a hymn of worship celebrating the incarnation, and saving work, of Christ. Just one year before he penned this poem, Charles had encountered the Redeemer himself. The joy of his own salvation is very obvious in this carol – “God and sinners reconciled” was a description of his own experience of coming to Christ. In another hymn that he wrote that same year he penned these amazing words:

And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?   

Charles Wesley originally sought to follow in his famous brother John’s footsteps. But he failed miserably as a preacher. He was no preacher. Or was he? History now bears witness to Charles Wesley’s greatness as a preacher through hymns. Five years after writing “And Can It Be” and “Hark!” he wrote his masterpiece Carol – “Come Thou Long-Expected Saviour”.

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth Thou art;
dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver, born a child, and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever, now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone;
by Thine own sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne.

The high Christology in this Carol is impressive. Charles Wesley has captured Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; and Micah 5:2 in this Carol. Chances are that his brother John had preached multiple sermons on these three texts of Scripture. But chances are that no-one today remembers any of them! But chances are remarkably good that there are tens of thousands of people today who could recite – and even sing – every stanza in Charles Wesley’s “Come Thou Long Expected-Saviour”! And by so doing they would again be meditating on these precious and profound Scriptures about the birth of the promised Messiah who was born to rule the world one soul at a time.

THE HEALING POWER OF TRUTH SET TO BEAUTIFUL MUSIC

William Chatterton Dix was blighted by a darkness that flooded his soul. In his despair he turned to the Bible and trained his heart to consider the Saviour and Deliverer who was born that first Christmas night. He was deeply struck by the opening chapters of Luke’s Gospel and as he fixed his heart on the truth contained in those first two chapters he found the darkness that had shrouded his soul gave way to the light of the truth. In 1865 he penned these words that summed up the truth that had set him free as he came to see that Christmas and Easter are not two gospel stories, but are intrinsically part of the one story, “Nails, spear shall pierce him through,
the Cross be borne for me, for you”. Dix realised that the message of Christmas was not an irrelevancy but was the plea to both the lukewarm Christian and the unforgiven sinner from the God of the Universe to be reconciled, “Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
the silent Word is pleading”. It was Dix’s hope that the profound truth expressed in his carol could open the eyes of the blind, whether they be a “peasant” or a “king”.

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?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary!

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce him through,
The Cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail, hail the Word Made Flesh,
The babe, the son of Mary!

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh;
Come, peasant, king, to own Him!
The King of Kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him!
Raise, raise the song on high!
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy! joy! for Christ is born,
The babe, the son of Mary!

William Chatterton Dix, 1865, Glasgow U.K.

There is something powerful about the grace of beautiful music cradling the truth of God’s revelation to mankind in song (Col. 1:6).

¶ 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.
For the law was given through Moses;
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 1:14, 17

The grace and the truth expressed in the classic Christmas Carols brings great joy to this preacher who strives to produce biblically and theologically informed followers of Christ. It’s one the reasons why this preacher also serves as a gate-keeper over the songs that use at Legana because I know that most of my sermons are long forgotten soon after they are preached yet what we sing on a Sunday rings in our hearts for years to come. This is no doubt why singing, music, hymns, has always been integral to Christian worship (Eph. 5:19). The consolation that us forgettable preachers have though is that most good song-writers were, and are, biblically/theologically informed by faithful preachers. May the magnitude of what we sing this Advent grip our hearts, enlighten our souls and fill us each with joy inexpressible. Merry Christmas.

 

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

8 Comments

  1. LYDIA

    “There is something powerful about the grace of beautiful music cradling the truth of God’s revelation to mankind in song (Col. 1:6).”
    There is Andrew.

    Without many knowing they are still singing the Truth of Scripture, the Gospel which we rejoice in – The Immanuel, God with us. Michael Card does a splendid job too in singing his Christmas song.

    “It’s one (of) the reasons why this preacher also serves as a gate-keeper over the songs…”. Thank you Andrew!

    This was THE first thing that hit me when I sat on the Legana Christian Church’s seat…no pews:)…that the music was as I had been used to for 12 years back in NSW, where we also had a preacher who was a faithful gate-keeper of the music used in the church services there. So this meant I knew I was at ‘home’ here. I knew that if the music was sound, theologically sound, then all would be well, irrespective of whether I knew anyone at all in the congregation itself. It was indicative of what I heard and would eventually listen to every single Sunday, the Truth of God’s Word. I guess one could say they go hand in glove. This gives or has given to me anyway security and trust.

    God is good indeed! Praise God for faithful preachers everywhere who use the songs written in love towards Him and have done throughout the ages, coupled with the preaching, to feed their sheep and honour and adore Him!

    Thanks for the Pastor’s Desk writings this year!

    Reply
    • Wendy Williams

      Beautifully and sincerely written Lydia, and God has blessed all at Legana with your presence in our community.

      Reply
      • LYDIA

        Thank you Wendy:)

        Reply
      • LYDIA

        Thank you Andrew. God is good…

        Reply
  2. Alan

    Totally agree with these excellent thoughts, Andrew. Well done. It will be no surprise to you that I am a big advocate of keeping the great hymns of the faith alive by using them in worship not just at special seasons, but throughout the year. Their words are rich in meaning and they were written to be very suitable for congregational singing without needing complex musical backing.

    Reply
  3. Wendy Williams

    Andrew, thank you to you and the whole Corbett family for such dedication to Christ. And for the sacrifices you all make to enable the Legana community to access Jesus teachings and the excellent biblical knowledge transfer via Andrew’s Spirit filled gift of the truthful, outpouring of God’s love.

    Not an easy gig, but one undertaken by you Andrew, with grace filled commitment, proving how our present reality is supported, day after relentless day, with Jesus gift to us of the Holy Spirit. For Christians, nothing is “happenstance” or “coincidence”. Our lives are daily impacted by the Holy Spirit. It’s only a matter of saying Yes to Christ.

    Picked that up from some bloke standing at a gate, spruking the love of God😁👍.

    Reply
    • Legana Christian Church

      Thank you Wendy. That’s very gracious of you. You are a great encouragement to me and to many in our church family.
      -A.

      Reply

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PENTECOSTALISM, THE TWO SIDES OF REVIVAL

home > Pastor's Desk > 2024 >June 21st > PENTECOSTALISM, THE SIDES OF REVIVAL Pentecostalism began with a move of God - a revival. This happened on a Jewish Festival called the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). This was when the Holy Spirit was given and poured...

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HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR RELATIONSHIP SKILLS

This year we have been laying a foundation for knowing God and then each Sunday building upon it. Throughout June we are focusing on how knowing God enables us to find our joy in Him and consequently to discover that He enables us to find joy in our relationships with others. But sadly, for many people who have vowed to love, serve, and follow Jesus, this has not always been easy to do. This is why the current sub-theme of humility is critically important if someone desires to truly experience joy in each of their various relationships with others. 

KNOWING GOD

In the past few months, we have been hearing in Church and also by reading the Pastor’s Desks that through the Psalms and by the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, we can know God more. The Psalms show God as our Shepherd, God’s character is unchanging, we can be still and know Him, and that He is poetic. The Fruit of the Spirit reminds us that God is faithful, gentle and kind, and that we need to stay close to Him in the same way a baby gets nutrients from its mother through the umbilical cord. Knowing these things, we can become more like God as He helps us outwork His character in our lives. Philippians 3:10 challenged me in this regard some time ago.

RULES RULES AND MORE RULES

What comes to mind when you hear the word Rules? For some, it is a welcome relief to all the chaos surrounding us. Rules can provide comfort, safety, stability, predictability and protection. But for many others, as soon as you hear the word rules, it causes you to sigh loudly, followed by the instant urge to do the opposite. It can cause an immense sense of frustration along with that feeling of being boxed or caged in. Then some rules are plain silly as they make no sense, or there appears to be no apparent reason for why the rule/s exists in the first place. 

The Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing FruitThe Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing Fruit

Jesus’ allegory in John 15:1-17 of the vine and the branches provides a beautiful picture of the intimate and living relationship available to those who would abide in Him, the true Vine; and it illustrates how naturally the Holy Spirit is able to produce fruit in the lives of those who are willing to be branches abiding in the vine.

Knowing God Through The Fruit Of The Spirit

I’m sure you can picture an occasion where food delicacies are served and someone is there who has lost all sense of decorum to the point of being rude to get to the food before others and is unable or unwilling to engage in any level of conversation for the sake of finding the choicest of foods. Maybe that was you or me on occasions. Or an All You Can Eat challenge restaurant. It is a picture of complete lack of self-restraint (especially if Homer Simpson is involved). Whilst we are away, I am looking forward to visiting a town (Kenilworth) with a bakery tourist attraction that sells 1kg doughnuts. I’m not sure what will happen there, but I can imagine many have risen to a challenge.

WHAT CHARMING BETRAYERS DESERVE ACCORDING TO THE PSALM OF KING DAVID, NUMBER 55

Australia is now grappling with a national crisis — the violent abuse of women by men. Every four days in Australia a woman is being murdered [Source]. The sad probability is that she was murdered by “a current or former intimate partner” [Source]. But added to this alarming statistic is the even greater and more horrifying statistic of number of women who are experiencing abuse – physical; sexual; verbal; financial; psychological – daily. In fact, it is so prevalent that most people working in this arena know that most domestic abuse incidents in Australia are not reported. Abuse is oppression. And since the Bible is so clear and consistent in its condemnation of oppression of the vulnerable you would naturally assume that this national crisis was being thundered and denounced as a great evil from the majority of pulpits around our country at the moment. This assumption is further reinforced by the guesstimate that one-in-four women in every Australian church is regularly abused in some way by a man. But I suspect that it is not.

KNOWING GOD THROUGH PSALM 23

My cat, Lola, had a beautiful, fluffy, soft coat. I had her for 13 years so I knew her very well. She loved a cuddle and snuggling at night sleeping in the crook of my arm. She loved me but with others she could be a rascal, hissing or swiping her claws. She never scoffed her food but was a grazer. It was common to hear her crunching her biscuits for a midnight snack and she loved ice cream. She loved hiding in cardboard boxes or in the pantry. She particularly hated the car evidenced by her continual mournful meowing til she got out. As I knew her, she also knew me. She knew I would feed her and give her pats or cuddles. When I called her she knew my soft voice, my touch, my smell. She knew my growly voice when she had done the wrong thing. When I’d take her to the vet she would be still in my arms as the vet examined her and vaccinated her. If she was injured or sick I would look after her.

KNOWING GOD THROUGH PSALM 22

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