"In the Bleak Midwinter"

David Bast

READ : Philippians 2:5-11

He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant. (v. 7 NIV)

Have you ever seen a painting of the manger scene by one of the Renaissance masters? The setting is clearly European, with Italian ruins or snow-covered German villages in the background. The English poet Christina Rossetti does something similar, setting the Christmas story “in the bleak midwinter,” when

. . . frosty wind made moan,

earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;

snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,

in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Of course, we don't actually know when Jesus was born, not even the exact year let alone the season. And it is highly unlikely that the ground around Bethlehem was frozen solid and buried in snowdrifts then. But this much is true: God did enter our world in the dead of winter, when our prospects were bleak.

What a comedown it was for him! In two memorable lines Rossetti paints the contrast between the glory of the Son in his preincarnate state and the lowliness of the baby Jesus:

Enough for him, whom cherubim worship night and day,

a breast full of milk, and a manger full of hay . . .

Such condescension, such voluntary self-humbling by God, makes an impossible demand: what could we ever give in response?

Audio Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjRXIiZ8bs0

PRAYER

What can I give him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

if I were a wise man, I would do my part;

yet what I can I give him—give my heart.