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  • Matt Beaney

#716. IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER (HOLST’S VERSION) (21/12/22)

Leading up to Christmas Day, I thought it would be good to look at 15 of the most popular carols (chosen by Classic FM listeners) and consider the content and what we can learn from them.


Yesterday and today, we have been looking at In the Bleak Midwinter as both versions are in this chart. Today is a reflection based on IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER (HOLST'S VERSION), number 3 in our chart of most popular carols.


LYRICS

In the bleak midwinter, 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.


Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;

Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.

In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.


Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,

A Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;

Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,

The ox and ass and camel which adore.


Angels and archangels may have gathered there,

Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;

But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,

Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.


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.


WHAT CAN I GIVE HIM?

This carol culminates with a moment of self-reflection. Mary, the shepherds, and the magi are presented as exemplary in their response to Jesus' arrival. In considering their example, we are prompted to ask ourselves: “What can I give Him, poor as I am?”


i. THE SHEPHERD'S RESPONSE

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them….The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.’ (Luke 2:17-8, 20)

We are not told that the shepherds gave a lamb! However, their response was to spread the good news of Jesus’ birth (evangelism). They also glorified and praised God (Worship). What can we give Him? Will we give Him our worship and our willingness to speak about Him?


ii. MARY’S RESPONSE

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.’ (Luke 2:19)

Mary treasured and pondered the things that God was doing in her life. God loves to see us reflecting on and treasuring His word and work. What can we give Him? Will we give him an undistracted mind to reflect and meditate on His works in scripture and our lives?


iii. JOSEPH’S RESPONSE

‘On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.’ (Luke 2:21)

Joseph obeyed God and named Him Jesus. What can we give Him? Will we obey God in our lives?

iv. THE WISE MEN’S RESPONSE

‘After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”…When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.’ (Matthew 2:1-2, 10-11)

The magi journeyed many miles to see and worship Jesus; they gave Him expensive and meaningful gifts. What can we give Him? Have we given our allegiance to King Jesus? Are we willing to put our time, energy and wealth at Jesus’ feet to be used as He sees fit?


We are encouraged to sing: “What can I give Him, poor as I am?” It turns out that we all have a lot to give! He doesn’t need anything, He is ‘The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ’! But He invites us to give what we have to Him and in His service. If we truly do give 'give our heart' all the rest will follow!


TAKE A MOMENT TO LISTEN TO THIS CAROL:




 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY

1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

Hopefully, see you on Christmas Morning from 10:00-11:00.

There is no service on 1st January.

 

2. Icebreaker

What has God been speaking to you about from your Bible reading recently?

 

3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group


On Sunday we looked at what it means for Jesus to be Immanuel.


Please read Matthew 1:18-24


Matthew gives us three names or titles for Jesus:

  1. Jesus - God Saves

  2. Messiah - The anointed King

  3. Immanuel - God with us


WHAT DOES IMMANUEL MEAN?


1. IMMANUEL - GOD WITH US IN THE PAST

Immanuel, which means 'God with us', refers to the belief that God, in the form of Jesus, came to Earth as a human being. This event, known as the incarnation, is celebrated during Christmas. The Chalcedonian Creed, a statement of Christian belief from the 5th century, affirms that Jesus had both a divine and human nature, without mixing or altering either.

Jesus’ divine and human natures are beautifully set in the carol, O Come All Ye Faithful:

‘God of God Light of light Lo He abhors not the virgin's womb Very God Begotten not created’

2. IMMANUEL MEANS: GOD WITH US IN THE PRESENT

In addition to Jesus' presence on Earth in the past, the term Immanuel also refers to Jesus' presence with us through the Holy Spirit in the present. He has promised:


“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:15-121)

3. IMMANUEL IS THE PROMISE OF HIS FUTURE PRESENCE FILLING ALL THINGS


Finally, Immanuel speaks to the promise of Jesus' future return and the renewal of the Earth with God's glory. According to the book of Revelation, this will be a time when God dwells among people, wiping away all tears and pain, and creating a new heaven and earth."

‘Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”’ (Revelation 21:1-5)

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

i. Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?

ii. What does it mean for Jesus to be Immanuel?

ii. How can we ensure that we focus and help others to focus on Jesus being Immanuel during this Christmas season?

ii. How does the title Immanuel bring comfort and joy to us?


PRAYER AND SIV

SIV - Do you have any encouraging stories of sharing your faith?

SIV- Let's pray for those that God has put on our hearts.





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