Saturday, 9 December 2017

Little Lord Jesus

Lettering by my friend @rach_forsyth

Luke 2: 1-7

I read somewhere (on Wikipedia, let’s be honest) that this carol is attributed to Martin Luther.

It seems unlikely to me that Luther, who wrote, “faith is a daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times”, would write a carol peppered with hesitant requests that Jesus might “be near me”, “love me, I pray”, “fit me for heaven” and what an underlying tone that could be interpreted as a Victorian moralism, insisting that “ no crying [Jesus] makes.”  I side with Once in Royal on this one:  “tears and smiles like us he knew,”; I can’t help but feel that Mary would too!  

However, as I was listening the other day, I realised that tucked away in an otherwise dull chorus is this three word theological bomb that blows every other idea humanity has ever had about God right out of the water: little Lord Jesus.

“Little Lord Jesus” is the wonder of the incarnation in three words.

Yes, Charles Wesley wrote: “Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man!” and, “Hail th’incarnate deity!” so I could have used either of those for a title.

But I love the simple audacity of these three words.
Little. Lord. Jesus!

Jesus is God become little,  in literal terms at least.  He’s born to a woman and as such born vulnerable and weak and hungry and utterly dependent on his young, confused, weary parents who had nowhere to lay him but in a feeding trough. Of course his tiny hands stretched out for comfort, of course his miniscule lungs cried out for for food.

The birth of any baby is miraculous; which parents can stand in the delivery room without some profound sense of wonder at the preciousness of a little human life?

But the miracle of Jesus’ birth is not just that he’s little.

He is the Lord.  

In terms of his significance, Jesus is anything but little. He is the least little being in the universe- in terms of his worth and his glory and his might. He is the Lord!

The one whose minute frame is wrapped in swaddling cloths is born in to the world he created.  The one by whom stars were flung into expansive galaxies, the one through whom DNA was penned in all its glorious intricacies and nuances, the one who assigned the sea its limit  and crafted the mountain ranges on a thousand planets- this is the one lying on the straw.  

But he became little. And why?

Because his name is Jesus.  

“Jesus” meaning: He will save his people from their sins.

He shared in our humanity so that he might break the curse over our humanity.  The One who has been majestic and glorious and mighty through all eternity became the little Lord Jesus, so that we might be rescued.

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21

Carol: Away in a Manger

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