The Adoration of the Living Word Made Flesh

December 24

Luke 2:1-21Matthew 2:1-12Hebrews 1; Colossians 1:15-19; Isaiah 7; Psalm 98

Prayer from Anglican Book of Common Prayer (2019)

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Incarnation

The more I think about the incarnation, the more questions I have. Is it possible to have enough awe and wonder to truly adore Jesus? The shepherds knew a little about the prophecies, and they reacted to the angels in all their magnificence by immediately seeking out the newborn. Then they proclaimed the news to everyone, loudly, with exuberance and joy. The magi knew the messages written in the stars, and they prepared gifts fit for a king. They traveled (no one knows exactly how far or for how long), and presented the child with the most precious of royal gifts, each with specific meanings: gold for his royalty, frankincense for his perfect reflection of the Father, and myrrh for his ultimate sacrifice. The King, the Divine Creator, and the Mortal Perfection, given for us.

O, come let us adore him! Yes, let us stop long enough to consider the galaxies and the prophecies to see the reality of the Singularity that is Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. And He is THE singularity, for in him, time and space converge and become infinite. He is the radiance of God’s glory, the icon of the Triune God, before all things, the Beginning and the End. He is the reconciler, redeemer, savior. 

And he is a squalling, dirty baby who needs to be fed, burped, and changed. He is a clumsy toddler, learning to use words to communicate while climbing with great determination anything taller than he. He is a child, curious about everything, learning from his father, but knowing his Father better than anyone. He is an adolescent, already wise in the way of the Lord and the meaning of the Scriptures. He is a teenager, acne prone, wispy bearded, and smelly. He is a young man, laughing off questions about finding a good wife, practicing his trade, helping his mother with younger brothers and sisters. For 30 years, Jesus lived a normal human life. He had preferred foods, favorite colors, activities that brought him joy. He dealt with peers and their envy or their teasing. His feelings were hurt when he was left out of boyish games. He had innocent crushes on girls. In all ways, he was one of us. 

It is by far the most amazing miracle in the whole Bible – far more amazing than the resurrection and more amazing than the creation of the universe. The fact that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal Son of God could become man and join Himself to a human nature forever, so that infinite God became one person with finite man, will remain for eternity the most profound miracle and the most profound mystery in all the universe.

– Wayne Grudem in Systematic Theology

There is no way to capture the paradox of wholly God and wholly man. There is no adoration great enough for those of us who see him. We have no adequate gifts to bring. All we can do is what Mary did, treasure the things revealed to us, pondering them in our hearts, knowing that his birth was only the beginning of his salvation. The shadow of the cross was already there, awaiting the time when Jesus would offer, once for all, the atoning sacrifice for our sin. Also present, and still not yet, is Jesus’ second coming, when he comes in glory to judge the world with righteousness and all the people with equity.


Let all mortal flesh keep silence

Paraphraser: Gerard Moultrie (1864)
Tune: PICARDY
Communion Liturgy
Published in 155 hymnals

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Hab. 2:20,Zech. 2:13
st. 2 = Rev. 19:16,Luke 22:19-20
st. 3 = Matt. 16:27
st.4 = Isa. 6:2-3

1. Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly mind ed,
for with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth
our full homage to demand.

2. King of kings, yet born of Mary,
as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of all, in human vesture,
in the body and the blood,
Christ will give to all the faithful,
his own self for heavenly food.

3. Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its van guard on the way,
as the Light of Light, descending
from the realms of endless day,
comes the powers of hell to vanquish
as the darkness clears away.

4. At his feet the six-winged Seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye
veil their faces to the Presence
as with ceaseless voice they cry,
‘Hallelujah, hallelujah,
hallelujah, Lord most high.’

Evidence suggests that the Greek text of “Let All Mortal Flesh” may date back to the fifth century. The present text is from the Liturgy of St. James, a Syrian rite thought to have been written by St. James the Less, first Bishop of Jerusalem. It is based on a prayer chanted by the priest when the bread and wine are brought to the table of the Lord.

The text expresses awe at Christ’s coming (st. 1) and the mystery of our perception of Christ in the body and blood (st. 2). With images from Isaiah 6 and Revelation 5, it portrays the glory of Christ (sung to by angels) and his victory over sin (st. 3-4). Although it has eucharistic emphasis, the text pictures the nativity of Christ in a majestic manner and in a much larger context than just his birth in Bethlehem. We are drawn into the awe and mystery with our own alleluias.”

Moultrie, Gerard, M.A., son of the Rev. John Moultrie, was born at Rugby Rectory, Sept. 16, 1829, and educated at Rugby and Exeter College, Oxford (B.A. 1851, M.A. 1856). Taking Holy Orders, he became Third Master and Chaplain in Shrewsbury School; Chaplain to the Dowager Marchioness of Londonderry, 1855-59; curate of Brightwaltham, 1859; and of Brinfield, Berks, 1860; Chaplain of the Donative of Barrow Gurney, Bristol, 1864: Vicar of Southleigh, 1869, and Warden of St. James’s College, Southleigh,1873. He died April 25, 1885. 

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