Thursday, December 23, 2010

Born a Child and Yet a King

This phrase from the Wesley hymn, "Come, thou long-expected Jesus," was the subject of my Advent study on this eve of Christmas Eve.  The text with its list of names for Jesus fascinates me, and I've thought about many of the phrases Wesley uses in his text.  I found little directly referring to the phrase that is the title of this post, but what I read led me to think about what the birth of Jesus means to me and in what sense Jesus is a "king."

Whether one subscribes to all the miraculous accounts in the gospels about the birth of Jesus, these beautiful stories of angels, shepherds, wise men, mangers, stars, a young mother and an often-ignored husband, seems irrelevant to me this morning.  I can only speak to the profound impact that the birth of Jesus so long ago has had on my life.  This wonderful child whose life began in such humble, gentle circumstances grew to become a poor itinerant preacher/teacher/healer, the leader of a disparate band of disciples.  How can such a person be regarded as a king?

And yet, he is the king of my heart.  If I am coming away from my Advent studies this season with any new insight, it is that Jesus still calls on us to serve him by serving others.  This, for me, is the great message that Jesus has handed down across the centuries and still speaks to us about in our hearts: that to serve others is to serve him.  The question then becomes, "how do I serve?"

Is it enough to live my life trying to be compassionate to all those I encounter?  Is it enough to search in my budget for more money to give to causes that help others?  Is it enough to pray for others?  In our western culture, we continue to consume too much of the world's resources.  In our country, we elect leaders who blame the poor for their own misfortunes, who continue policies that further enrich the already wealthy at the expense of those who have the least.  How do I change the direction in which we're headed?

Across the centuries and in my heart, Jesus is calling me to ponder these questions, to seek God's leading in finding answers.  The power of the child-king Jesus is far greater than the power of every government in the world, stronger than every army.  Look at what this poverty-stricken Jewish man has accomplished.  He is calling me this Advent to serve and love, and my prayer as I look forward to the wonderful celebration of his birth is that I will follow God's leading to answer the call of Jesus.

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