We sang a Christmas hymn today that I think I’ve sung only once or twice last year. Written by Stuart Townend, you can hear part of it and purchase the mp3 here (track 7). Beautiful words, telling the whole story Christmas started.
From the squalor of a borrowed stable
By the Spirit and a virgin’s faith;
To the anguish and the shame of scandal
Came the Saviour of the human race!
But the skies were filled with the praise of heaven,
Shepherds listen as the angels tell
Of the Gift of God come down to man
At the dawning of Immanuel.
King of heaven now the Friend of sinners,
Humble servant in the Father’s hands,
Filled with power and the Holy Spirit,
Filled with mercy for the broken man.
Yes, He walked my road and He felt my pain,
Joys and sorrows that I know so well;
Yet His righteous steps give me hope again –
I will follow my Immanuel!
Through the kisses of a friend’s betrayal,
He was lifted on a cruel cross;
He was punished for a world’s transgressions,
He was suffering to save the lost.
He fights for breath, He fights for me,
Loosing sinners from the claims of hell;
And with a shout our souls are free –
Death defeated by Immanuel!
Now He’s standing in the place of honour,
Crowned with glory on the highest throne,
Interceding for His own belovèd
Till His Father calls to bring them home!
Then the skies will part as the trumpet sounds
Hope of heaven or the fear of hell;
But the bride will run to her Lover’s arms,
Giving glory to Immanuel!
I’m particularly struck by verse two. I recently met two guys in line at a coffee shop, one of whom was a broken man sharing his disappointment with two local Chattanooga churches that basically refused to help him in the midst of his brokenness. He said that when he went to elders in the one church, they basically showed him no mercy and didn’t walk with him and point his hope to Christ for righteous steps to walk in. Then when he went to his pastors at the second church they told him, “we don’t do that kind of ministry here.” This man was clearly hurting, broken by the fall, struggling to see the Friend of sinners, and local shepherds refused to help him see the Good Shepherd.
The two men got their coffee and went to their table, and I stood in line, deeply saddened at what I’d heard, hoping it wasn’t that bad, but knowing we’re all deeply broken I was more grieved at those church leader’s actions than I was surprised. I’m reading in Ezekiel, and have been struck in the first few chapters by how God’s judgment of his people is so that they would know that he is the LORD. I was mad and wanted those church leaders judged, but then I remembered I too should have been judged, but the King of heaven was lifted on a cruel cross to draw me and those church leaders and all nations to himself.
I’m so thankful that Jesus fought for me, for them, for all his people on the cross, that he conquered, and that he intercedes for us while “crowned with glory on the highest throne.”
Come Emmanuel, Lord Jesus, and bring the restoration of all things.