Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Advent 4 - Savior of the Nations

It’s been too long since I posted last. It is that time of the year after all. Despite the texts on being prepared and watching and waiting, I have been caught once again unprepared for Christmas. It is too hard to believe that Christmas is only a few days away. Oh well…

Last Sunday, we sang Savior of the Nations, Come (LBW 28). As I sang this hymn, I think it moved to the top of my list of “Favorite Advent Carols,” and even hymns not to be without when stranded on a desert island. In essence, while an Advent hymn, it contains the whole story, I think. The only thing is that the translation is a composite and at times lacks the power of Luther’s translation of Ambrose’s text. However, there are times when the translation does a wonderful job grabbing the mystery. Anyway, here it is. (From the Lutheran Book of Worship, hymn 28, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978)

Savior of the nations, come; Show the glory of the Son!
Ev’ry people stand in awe; Praise the perfect Son of God.

Not of human seed or worth, But from God’s own mystic breath,
Fruit in Mary’s womb begun, When God breathed the Word his Son.

Wondrous birth! Oh wondrous child Of the virgin undefiled!
Mighty God and man in one, Eager now his race to run!

God the Father is his source, Back to God he runs his course;
Down to death and hell descends, God’s high throne he reascends.

He leaves heaven to return; Trav’ling where dull hellfire burns;
Riding out, returning home As the Savior who has come.

God the Father’s precious Son Girds himself in flesh to run
For the trophies of our souls, Longer than this round earth rolls.

Shining stable in the night, Breathing vic’try with your light;
Darkness cannot hide your flame, Shining bright as Jesus’ name.

I think perhaps it is the last verse that gets to me. Shining stable in night… the preceding six verses are what that stable light means: that breath of God’s Word, the double ecstasy, the saving from death and hell. The light from that stable was Jesus. There in that stable is born the savior of the nations. Even now at Christmas, we look forward to the Passion. They are not unconnected.

Grace and Peace.

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