Thursday, 21 December 2017

Risen With Healing in His Wings

Lettering by my friend @rach_forsyth

Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace,
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings;
Risen with healing in his wings!
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth;
Born to give them second birth.
Hark, the herald angels sing:
“Glory to the new born King!”

These words are probably my favourite words in the whole of Carolsville. Given how long I’ve spent hanging out downtown there these past few months, this is quite the accolade.

I just love how Charles Wesley so beautifully articulates the link between the birth of Jesus and his resurrection; he sees how fundamentally they are connected- both to one another, and to us, and he doesn't just know it: his words erupt in to poetic praise!

Yes, Jesus was born to die. He was born as a human to redeem humans, and every minute he lived, he lived so that at the cross his innocence could be substituted for my shame. His birth set him on the road toward the cross. But He was also born to be raised from the dead. In Bethlehem, it was glory, not the grave that was his goal. And gloriously, he was raised as the first born among the dead, leading others in his ascension train. That’s us!

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul explains how Jesus is a glorious representative of mankind, where the rest of humanity, epitomised by Adam, fell short.

I find, living in a world of gloom and despair and darkness, that in so many ways it is easy to feel like my life is characterised by my connection to the man of dust. I bear the likeness of my forefather: weak, perishable, dishonourable. I feel subject to toil and frustration and death.

But Jesus is born so that just as we have borne the likeness of the man of dust, so we might also bear the likeness of Him, the man from heaven.

Jesus came to a world that was under a curse, and lived under a curse, and died under a curse: and in embracing the curse, he defeated it. He plumbed the depths of our God-rejecting, futility-riddden, death-destined existence and became a curse for us, and our redemption. He mildly laid his glory by and came right down to meet us in our degradation and shame. He becomes a son of earth with us and experiences our death for us.

And then, like a Phoenix from the ashes, Jesus was raised.

On a specific morning in history, Jesus walked out of an actual tomb; on a specific morning history, he defeated death.

After the darkest of nights, the Sun of Righteousness rose; as Dawn broke light and life touched everything on the surface of the earth: there is healing in His wings.  

He became a son of earth with us, and endured the worst earth has to offer, so that we might become a son of heaven with him- and enjoy the best heaven has to offer.

As Wesley has so beautifully written, at Christmas we celebrate both that Jesus united himself to us in our death and darkness, and that Jesus has united us to himself in His conquering death.

And so: joyful all ye nations rise; join the triumph of the skies!

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