Saturday, December 7

Creator of the Stars of Night [9th century Latin trans. Mason Neale 1851]

At your great name, O Jesus, now
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
All things on earth with one accord,
Like those in heaven, shall call you Lord.

This stanza of the poem alludes to the "Christ Hymn" in Philippians chapter two.  Paul quotes the hymn in his letter to the church at Philippi.  That hymn concludes [Philippians 2:9-11 NRSV]:

 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

We are just past Christ the King Sunday in the liturgical calendar.  Indeed, it is the Sunday immediately prior to the start of Advent.  Typically we think of kings as strong, authoritarian, and dominating figures who lean toward a strong centralization of power.  However, the early hymn of the church which Paul quotes in his letter describes an entirely different sort of person [Philippians 2:6-8 NRSV]:

 “… though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death --
even death on a cross.”

Christ, who was equal to God did not exploit his power and privilege.  Rather he poured himself out in service and self-sacrifice.  He was humble, and obedient, and willing to suffer much in the cause of love.  And what is more, Paul makes it clear that this description for Jesus is not meant for him alone, but rather it is a description of what the community of faith should look like.  Paul introduces the Christ Hymn this way [Philippians 2:1-5 NRSV]:

   “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy,  make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.  Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…”

While we wait for the coming of Christ we are the Body of Christ now.  And we have been given the description of how we shall live in the world if we desire to fully embrace the honor of being the incarnation of God’s love.  So today, and every day this Advent, may we have the mind of Christ and never do anything or say anything inconsistent with that mind.

Daily Collect:
Servant Lord, you came as one with all the power and glory of heaven at your command, and yet arrived as an infant born to peasants.  You were equal to God, yet did not see that as a reason to exploit, but rather, you became a slave to all and gave everything you had in service to us.  Help us Lord who await with eager longing your return to have your mind in us and to follow you as servants of our servant Lord.  In the name of the One to whom all knees will bow and all lips confess.  Amen.

Paul Lang