What Child Is This?

Here are my thoughts for this, the 4th Sunday in Advent. And yes, I will post something for Christmas Day.

What Child Is This?

(United Methodist Hymnal #219; Text: William c. Dix, 1837 – 1898; Music: 16th Century English Melody; Tune: Greensleeves; Meter: 87.87 with refrain)

1.What child is this who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?

Refrain:This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary.

2.Why lies he in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christians, fear, for sinners here the silent Word is pleading.


3.So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh, come, peasant, king, to own him; the King of kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone him.



The carolers of England asked how it was that the Christ child could be lying in the manger instead of a palace.God asks David how it is that he, David, has a palatial estate while He, God, still resides in a tent outside the city. (2 Samuel 7: 1 – 11, 16)  Even today, we worship the feeling of richness and power more than we do the meaning of this season.

It seems like each year, when the Advent season begins, we begin discussing not how this will be the season of hope and joy and peace but rather how this will be a the season of economic recovery and business survival.We look more to the palaces of the rich and powerful than we do to the slums and barrios of our country and the world around us.Could there be any more irony in Congress working on a budget that short changes the poor at a time when the Savior is born?

It is only right that we would rather look at the rich, the powerful, those that have it all.It is a much better picture than to see the hungry, the homeless, the powerless, those whom we deem worse off than we.We want to move up in the world, not bring the world with us. We cling to what we know, accepting that we will never reach the pinnacles of power that seem to mean so much today.

We don’t see how we can do anything, for we have nothing and those who seemingly have less are incapable of helping us gain what others have.We are incapable of seeing how it is that God has picked us as the foundation of His Kingdom.We are mortal, we are fickle and unfaithful, and we are easily distracted.It is not possible that we will be the ones who see the completion of God’s Kingdom.

As long as we see God’s Kingdom in terms of buildings and power, we will never be able to hear God calling to us. Even Mary did not, at first, understand this.She wondered why, she a maid, would be the mother of the Christ child. (Luke 1: 26 – 38)

But she listened to God and she was able to sing in terms that magnified the Lord. (Luke 1: 47 – 55) The challenge for us is not to ignore the voice of God calling to us in this hectic time of the year.The challenge for us is not to trust in our status, our wealth, or power.The challenge for us is to open our hearts and hear the voice of God calling to us. As Mary said in her song, God’s kingdom does not favor the rich and powerful.Rather He lifts up the humble; He will fill the hungry with good things and send the rich away.

Paul echoes this comment in his letter to the Romans.He tells us that this mystery of faith is now open to us all, not just a select few. (Romans 16: 25 – 27)  So it should not be a surprise that a young woman from a small town was chosen to be the mother of Christ.It should not be surprising then that we are the ones, not the rich and powerful or those who live in palatial mansions or fancy apartments, who hear God’s call today.

God will keep calling and those who are not caught up in the moment will be the ones who hear that call.It will be people like Hannah, the young David, and the innocent Mary who will hear and believe that the Word of God will come true.

Yes, we have more important things to do and we have places that we must be.We do not have time to answer the call and we will not see the child born in a stable.But maybe we will stop for a moment when we hear the carolers ask “what child is this?”And then we will see the young child and let Christ into our lives.As we open our hearts to Christ, we find ourselves saying, “Here I am, a servant of the Lord.”

The call goes out to the world.Will you respond as did Isaiah?

United Methodist Hymnal #593 – “Here I Am”


3 thoughts on “What Child Is This?

  1. Could there be any more irony in Congress working on a budget that short changes the poor at a time when the Savior is born?

    It’s rather ironic that the Christmas story was largely predicated upon confiscatory taxation. I guess some things never change.

  2. It should be noted that many scholars today feel that the reason for the census, and thus the travel of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem, was not for taxes but simply as a means of counting the population. Luke’s translation is rather limited in the scope of its meaning.

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