During Advent this year, I am reflecting daily using this Advent Photo Devotional. The word designated for today, December 16th is #Bring.
The church I serve also has a preschool attached to it, and weekly hosts a short chapel service for the preschool’s different classes. This week’s focus is on the people who visit Jesus after his birth- the kings, wise men, Magi, whatever term you prefer. The preschool children heard the story of what the wise men brought; gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
This has me wondering today, what do you bring to celebrate the soon birthday of Jesus? It might sound a little trite, but this is a good stewardship question.
The words and melody of the Christmas carol, “In the Bleak Midwinter” ring in my ears. It features a beautiful melody by Gustav Holst and rich text by Christina Georgina Rossetti. In my past roles as a worship and music director, I liked to use it in some way to create the liturgy around offering during Advent and Christmas, especially incorporating verse 3.
“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.
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 almighty, Jesus Christ.
What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb; if I were a wiseman I would do my part; yet what I can I give him- give my heart.”
I admit verse 1 is highly contextual. My friends from Florida, for example, had never heard it before moving to Minnesota. It makes sense, because a “bleak midwinter” would hardly describe one’s experience growing up in Florida, Hawaii, Southern California, etc. Even so, verses 2 and 3 are probably just fine and useful anywhere.
As we are now just over a week away from Christmas Eve, and as you may well be doing (or scrambling to finish) your Christmas shopping, gift wrapping and giving, what are you bringing to the one who brings all that you have to you?
I encourage you to think about this question today and as you work to finish your Christmas shopping and gift giving like I am doing.
Source: “In the Bleak Midwinter,” Christina Georgina Rossetti & Gustav Holst, found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 294.