gifts we bring

by Elizabeth de Barros

I stall, look out the window, wait for the spark. Wandering around the house sometimes affords me a glimpse beyond the horizon.

To distill into words the Incarnation of Christ does two things: Brings me to my knees and causes me to question whether I have what it takes to approach such mystery. Is this something of what it means to tremble? It’s no light matter to discuss the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  Who is worthy of such a task? To pontificate over Deity come down is to tread upon holy ground, a place where even angels fear to go.

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

-1 Timothy 3:16 ESV

Indeed, He is come. The Promised One, helpless babe, burst forth from humanity’s womb to appear before men and kings and angels under a Sovereign sky. Immanuel, “God with us.” The One who, for our sake, condescended from on high to live among the observing smelly ranks of flesh and blood and by whose account we may now approach.

But how? How do we approach?

We’re all little drummer boys at heart, eager to bring our finest gifts to lay before the King. Even if it’s just a rum pum pum pum on our proverbial drum, we long to give Him something that will please.

But if we examine ourselves aright, we have nothing to bring. We are all weak, vile creatures before this Holy One, this God who has no need. As it says,

“Who has ever given a gift to Him that he might be repaid?”

-Romans 11:35 (ESV)

He bids us come, nonetheless. So we offer Him our yearnings and flailings of heart, revealing our frail estate. We acquiesce to the fact that we are but dust. Our souls heave a sigh. Do we dare allow God to be God — the One who renders a righteous judgment by convicting us of our need for Him? Oh, we know we have need of Him, but here is where we must break: under the fragile yet unbending beauty that He doesn’t condemn us for our humanity, for we’ve been made in His image.

“What is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?”

-Psalm 8:4 (ESV)

This is where God brings us face to face with our plight, our utter need for Him. And He spreads a table before us in the midnight fields of our desiring and feeds us with the bread of Himself.

This Advent season, there is something far more glorious to consider than how we might approach Him. Let us ponder that it is He Who first approached us. Then we may come as we are: lowly, acceptable, such are these gifts we bring.

Glorious night sky


O Holy Night!

The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.

Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees!

Oh, hear the angel voices!

O night divine, the night when Christ was born;

O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!

O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!

♦  ♦  ♦

-by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure

The words and lyrics of the old carol ‘O Holy Night’ were written by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure in 1847. Cappeau was a wine seller by trade but was asked by the parish priest to write a poem for Christmas. He obliged and wrote the beautiful words of the hymn. He then realized that it should have music to accompany the words and he approached his friend Adolphe Charles Adams (1803-1856). He agreed and the music for the poem was therefore composed by Adolphe Charles Adams. Adolphe had attended the Paris conservatoire and forged a brilliant career as a composer. It was translated into English by John Sullivan Dwight (1812-1893).