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One of my favourite carols is “In the Bleak Midwinter”. The words were written by Christina Rossetti in 1872. In 1905, the famous English composer, Gustav Holst, put the words to music. Holst’s melody is simple, yet crafted to adapt perfectly to the irregular metre of Rossetti’s poem.

The first verse tells of the cold, inhospitable reality of winter. Snow has fallen on snow. The wind brings a shuddering chill. The ground is frozen, as hard as iron. It’s very unlikely, however, that freezing temperatures marked the night when Jesus was born. There is some poetic license in Rossetti’s opening verse.

But then, in the second verse, poetry gives way to wonder and worship. The carol presents Jesus, first as the Lord of glory who will come again, then as the vulnerable baby born 2000 years ago in an animal pen. Christ’s second coming is compared with his first.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him

Nor earth sustain

Heaven and earth shall flee away

When He comes to reign

In the bleak mid-winter

A stable-place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty — Jesus Christ.

Heaven will not withhold Jesus; Jesus will come again. Earth cannot contain or control Jesus; Jesus is Lord. When he returns, his Kingdom will come in all its fullness and there will be a new heavens and a new earth – the old order of death, mourning, crying, and pain shall “flee away”. Jesus says in Revelation 21:3, “I am making all things new.”

S uch is the glory of Jesus Christ. Yet, for us now, we bow in worship. In awe we realize that for Jesus the way to that glory, that triumph, that victory was the way of utter self-sacrifice – a way of self-sacrifice that began in “a stable place”. In awe we realize that the manger held the one who is the hope of glory, the Lord of the ages, in the manger we realize that the one who is before all time and is beyond all time wriggles as a helpless infant. He is Immanuel – God with us.

There is only one response we can make. “Yet, what can I give him?” the carol asks in the last verse. The answer is found in the final phrase of this carol: “Give him my heart.” This is Christmas, this is Christianity: Jesus is worthy of all my love. Today, let us give him our heart, our love, our life.

Grace and peace for this Advent season

視頻大意翻譯(Brief video Chinese translation):

我最喜歡的聖誕歌曲之一是《在寒涼的嚴冬》。 這首詞是由克莉絲蒂娜-羅塞蒂在1872年寫的。 1905年,英國著名作曲家古斯塔夫-霍爾斯特(Gustav Holst)將這首詞譜成音樂。 霍爾斯特的旋律很簡單,但卻能完美地適應羅塞蒂詩中的不規則節拍。

第一節將我們帶入冬天寒冷、荒涼的現實。 雪落在雪上, 風帶來不寒而慄的寒意。 地面凍結,像鐵一樣堅硬。

耶穌出生的那晚不太可能有冰凍的溫度。 這首歌的開頭部分的歌詞有一些詩意。 但在第二節中,詩意就讓驚奇和敬拜所取代。 這首歌首先將耶穌描述為將再次降臨的榮耀之主,然後將其描述為2000年前出生在關動物圈中脆弱的嬰兒。 我們看到基督的第二次到來與第一次的相比。


天堂不會限制耶穌; 耶穌會再次降臨。 地球無法容納或控制耶穌; 耶穌是主。 當他再來時,他的國度將全面到來,將有一個新天新地--死亡、哀傷、哭泣和痛苦的舊秩序將 “消失”,因為耶穌在啟示錄21:3中說:“我使萬物更新”。

這就是耶穌基督的榮耀。 然而,對我們來說,我們現在是在敬拜中鞠躬。 我們在敬畏中意識到,對耶穌來說,通往那榮耀、那份勝利的道路是完全自我犧牲的道路,從 “一個馬槽 ”開始。 馬槽里放著那位榮耀的盼望,萬世的主。 在馬槽裡,那位在所有時間之前、超越所有時間的人,就像一個無助的嬰兒一樣蠕動著。 他是以馬內利—神與我們同在。

對這位神,只有一個回應。 “然而,我能給他什麼呢?” 這首歌問道。 答案是--這首歌的最後一句話:“把我的心給他。” 這就聖誕節,這就是基督信仰。 耶穌配得上我所有的愛。 願我們今天能把我們的愛給他。

Pastor Callum