Last Sunday I encouraged folks to “find your song”. Even a line or phase that becomes your expression this season. A few weeks ago while studying for a sermon, I ran across a lost stanza from the Christmas carol, “Hark, The Harold Angels Sing.” Who knew? I’ve been singing this song for over 50 years and never realized it had a fourth verse.
The well-known first stanza is already rich. It is a rousing invitation to all nations and all nature to join with the singing angels in celebrating the arrival of the long-promised Messiah in the humble backwater of Bethlehem. Who, then is this Christ? The second verse answers. He is no ordinary infant. He is the everlasting Lord God himself. Verse three continues the thought and marvels at the sacrifice and mission of God’s Son. He lays aside the comforts of heaven, takes on frail humanity, all for the sake of man’s second birth. The forgotten fourth stanza goes like this:
“Come, Desire of Nations, come, fix in us thy humble home.
Rise, the woman’s conquering seed, bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Adam’s likeness, Lord efface, stamp thy image in its place.
Second Adam from above, reinstate in us thy love.
I know its old English, but these words have awesome theology. It reminds us that Christ is still needed and desired by the nations regardless of whether they recognize his Lordship over them or not. It quotes Haggai 2:7 The second line helps us think how Christ came to defeat Satan’s death grip on mankind (Gen 3:15). Christ will again return to vanquish Satan permanently. Christ has won and will win. It is the already but not yet. Until then, although we bear the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven (1 Corinthians 15:49).
This last month, I’ve run across a lot of people, myself included, that are sad and discouraged. With all that is happening around us “peace on earth” seems a long way off. I pray for the image of God to be stamped in all its places around me. Seeing God at work, paying attention to the God sightings, and taking joy in the little things keeps hope alive within me.
“Hark” means to listen or pay attention. I think that’s a key. “Listen…the angels are singing!” Do you hear them? God is at work behind the ripped and ugly curtains of this world.
Anyway, that’s how I see it. – Pastor Pete