The scene is familiar. A baby is sleeping.
His mother’s worn out. It’s been a hard day.
A few hours before she was groaning and weeping,
just a child, giving birth in the usual way.
The place doesn’t matter, except it’s not cosy
the way that the prettiest Christmas cards say,
with kings humbly kneeling, the stable all rosy,
the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.
Forget the carol constructed so neatly—
the cattle are lowing, the baby awakes.
Forget the Sundayschool singing so sweetly
that little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
The baby is crying. The baby is human
and the baby is God and he cries with the shock.
He cries for the keys to his coming kingdom.
He cries for the devil who first picked the lock.
He cries for the mother whose heart will be broken.
He cries for the children that Herod will find.
He cries for the father whose fears are unspoken
but for ever will trouble his uncertain mind.
He cries for food in a land ploughed by famine.
He cries for freedom behind a barred door.
He cries for a judge who will come and examine
the reasons for sin and the causes of war.
He cries for the rich, who on hearing him crying
lean over and say There now, give us a smile!
He cries for the camps full of refugees dying—
his tears are the Congo, the Danube, the Nile.
He cries for all pharisees, each of them giving
the reasons why sadly they have to refuse.
He cries out for Lazarus, both dead and living.
He cries for two thousand years of excuse
and our patience is thin as a sliver of glass
as we fear this child’s crying will never die down.
It slithers through time as a snake slips through grass:
he would cry us an ocean in which we would drown
except it subsides. The baby is quiet.
The stillness returns to the Judaean night.
Whatever is coming he will not defy it
for he came after all to put everything right.
He cries for the strength that he needs to prepare him
to learn obedience in thirty long years.
Good Friday will come. Death will not spare him:
the world will at last be baptised with his tears
and his crying at night is his effort to waken
the sleeping and dead whom he came to live through.
He cries to the God who must leave him forsaken.
He cries out to me. He cries out to you.
Written for the carol service at St John’s, West Ealing in 1996. For a carol service for Iraq in 2013 the last line of verse 7 was changed to "his tears are the Tigris, Euphrates and Nile".
The Lord saw our plight so a star he did light
But the world in return made his son take to flight
But then as he grew he saw through to you
Knowing we had a great debt that was due
In time he would grow and his love he would show
That by his great grace through your faith you would know
He would go up that hill doing his father's will
To shed blood on the cross would our debt he fulfill
It is there that by grace we can look on his face
To find that in heaven is prepared us a place
His desire to save us from sin that enslaved us
Meant on a cruel tree that our shame he'd take for us
So, now then at Christmas a tree stands before us
With a star that will tell us the story of Jesus
Author: David A. Beaty
Hey, y'all! Pastor Beaty again. I want to warn you to be careful about who you throw away. Yes, you heard me right. Who do you throw away? In Judges 11 it tells us: "Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah."
Many of us are familiar with Jephthah and his foolish vow that he would sacrifice to God whatsoever came out of his house to meet him if God gave him the victory in that battle. (Jdg. 11:30-35). We have gleaned from the wisdom of not making foolish vows and also keeping whatever vows we do make. But before Jephthah’s vows, we learn of the rejection of Jephthah by his own brothers.
Jephthah was the son of an harlot and just like today when somebody is different, we tend to reject them and cast them aside. Jephthah’s brothers had thrown Jephthah away as worth less than them. But Jephthah was a mighty man of valour, and when his brothers cast him out, the scriptures tell us that certain vain men gathered themselves to him.
As things happen to go, in the process of time, the Ammonites came to fight the children of Israel and Jephthah’s brothers came to fetch him. The one they had thrown away was now the one they needed. Oh, that we would be careful about who we reject! It just may be that they are the ones that God will bring the victory through.
Hey y'all out there! Do you know someone who doesn't like to take responsibility for their own actions and their own faults? Or maybe even sometimes that someone is you. Well, let me tell you, you're in good company. I was reading in my devotions in Deuteronomy where Moses told the children of Israel that it was their fault that he was not going to be able to enter into the Promised Land. Now, I sorta remember back in Numbers that God told Moses that he wasn't going to be able to enter into the Promised Land because he disobeyed God, because he smote the rock twice instead of speaking to it. But you know what? It's human nature to cast off blame. But let's step up and be men and women of integrity and take responsibility for our own actions and our own faults and our own sins, and let's look to God to give us strength and trust him in his judgement.