People always ask me around this time, "Paul, what's your favorite Christmas hymn?" It may be the most difficult question I have to answer all year!
There have been so many beautiful words written that capture the Advent story, and with each new addition, the narrative becomes no less amazing: the King of Kings and Lord of Lords leaves the splendor of glory to come to a shattered earth to suffer and die for self-oriented rebels.
The Messiah is not born in a palace, but in a stable. He lives his life as a pilgrim, denied a small luxury even animals enjoy - a home (see Matthew 8:20). He is despised and rejected, then subjected to a bloody and painful public crucifixion.
Christ does all this intentionally and willingly so that those rebels will be forgiven, so that those separated from God will have a home with him forever, and so that grace will be supplied to people in desperate need of it.
I hope every generation continues to write hymns about Advent!
Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne
I confess - I don't have one favorite hymn. But one of my many favorites captures the stunning contrast between Jesus' suffering and our resultant blessing. The hymn is Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne, written in 1864 by Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott.
Take a few minutes and let these words refocus your heart on the true meaning of Christmas:
Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem's home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
Heaven's arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.
The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.
Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word,
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.
When the heav'ns shall ring, and her choirs shall sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying "Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.
This Christmas season, remember that you have an eternal home, because in amazing grace Jesus was willing to leave him home and have no home.