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Tuesday, December 27, 2016
In the bleak midwinter,
frosty wind made moan;
earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow,
snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Our God, heaven cannot hold him,
nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away
when he comes to reign:
in the bleak midwinter
a stable place sufficed
the Lord God incarnate, Jesus Christ.
Angels and archangels
may have gathered there;
cherubim and seraphim
thronged the air;
but his mother only,
in her maiden bliss,
worshiped the beloved with a kiss.
What can I give him,
poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man,
I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.
Christina Rossetti’s “In the Bleak Midwinter”
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
This hymn always comes as a reminder to me that, although I am blessed beyond belief, there is still much for me to act on as a Christian. The Christ came to us in the bleakest of times. God reached out in the person of Jesus to challenge everything that the establishment held dear—power, money, control. This king was not born into a world of comfort and ease but rather one that was cold, harsh, and unwelcoming of the change that was to come.
I am a bit overwhelmed by the angry rhetoric and mean-spiritedness that our nation engages in so easily. It is easy to look at these times as bleak. Times like these call for us to act, but what can we do? I often remind my students that it is not our job to save the world. Rather, our job is to make an impact one kid at a time.
The last stanza is my favorite. Like the Micah passage that asks, “What does the Lord require of you?” this asks a simple question. “What can I give, poor as I am?” With as many blessings as my life holds, I remain but a sinner in need of grace. The only thing I truly have to offer is the heart that drives all decision-making and action. Ultimately it is the only thing that really matters.
Lord, as I approach the new year, help me find new ways to offer what I have to you. Teach me to recall the humility of your birth in the bleakness of time as I ponder what I should be doing for the kingdom of heaven. Blessed as I am, help me remember to give my heart as well. Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.
Written by Rob Sinclair, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
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