On the Tenth Day...

  When Elijah fled from the wrath of Queen Jezebel and hid in a cave, the Spirit of God came down to him; not in the storm, or in the whirlwind, but in the gentle breeze which followed. I used to be skeptical about the legitimacy of my conversion, because It wasn't dramatic or causing any really different feeling inside of me. However, the truth is, that God is in the ordinary; He created it. It is only our craving flesh which, like the Athenians, constantly wants something new, something extraordinary, something stimulating.
  And yet, on that most glorious day, that day when all the angels watched in awe as the Creator came down and became a creation, it was really quite inconspicuous. On that day when, He made a greater sacrifice than any man could ever comprehend, hardly anybody noticed. In Egyptian myth, when Osiris the king and future savior of the world was born, all sorts of things happened and practically everyone knew about it, even a lowly woman fetching water from the well, suddenly cried aloud, "Osiris the king is born!"
   Was it so for our Lord? Not at all. In fact it may as well have been a normal night for most people. The only people who got alerted were a few shepherds, who probably wouldn't be believed if they proclaimed that they had seen the Messiah. However, not many people would be believed especially if they claimed that they had found this young king born to a carpenter, and lying in a feeding trough.
  It is true as William Cowper penned, "God moves in a Mysterious way, His wonders to perform;". 

  Philip Brooks also realized the anasuming nature of the incarnation when he wrote:

"How silently, how silently 
the wond'rous gift is giv'n,
So God imparts to human heats,
The blessings of His heav'n."
 
How many of you knew immediately which song that came from? 
  Believe it or not, this is the third verse of the sweet soft Christmas Carol, "O Little Town of Bethlehem."  I never really thought of this hymn as very "doctrinally" rich. To me it was just some sentimental fluff about Bethlehem and when I was younger, I confess I scorned this lovely song. 
   I never realized how meaningful each line is, until I got a little older, and a little wiser. 

Do read the lyrics with me.

O Little Town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep,
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth,
The everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep,
Their watch of wond'ring love.
O morning stars together
proclaim the Savior's birth,
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth.

How silently, how silently
The wond'rous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heav'n.
 No ear may hear His comming,
But in this world of sin,
 Where dear souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels,
The great glad tidings tell,
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emanuel.

 What beautiful words. Note the artful imagery in the first stanza. Brooks is noting how the stars are going by in the sky above Bethlehem, and yet in it's dark streets is shining the brightest light of all. In the second verse, he alludes to the angels keeping their watch of "wond'ring love," referring to the fact that angels wondered over the mystery that God would become flesh and dwell among us. In the third stanza, which I consider the climax of the carol, he correlates the quietness of Christ's birth with the quietness by which He often enters our hearts. Finally, stanza four is a prayer, asking the Christ to dwell in our hearts.

 Unfortunately I can't find a video version with all four versions, so this will have to do!
   Just for fun I'm adding in an alternate version sung by my own personal favorite singer, Julie Andrews.


Sometimes the good things come softly, sometimes extraordinary things happen normally, and sometimes God's gifts come to us silently.




  

1 Response
  1. Esther Olson Says:

    I completely agree. Sometimes I've doubted my conversion as well, since I too was not suddenly transformed from sinner to saint (or at least from wretched sinner to passionate Christian). I hadn't made the connection between the "still, small voice" and the quietness of God's workings. It makes so much sense - God is truly in the ordinary, as you said. And yet, through that, He works extraordinary things, like salvation. Thank you for these thoughts, Christianna!