O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
O Little Town of Bethlehem
I sang or heard the line “Be born in us today” three times between Christmas Eve and The First Sunday of Christmas. All three were lovely and inspiring services, but I was amused. (Hopefully, my three colleagues in The Capital District assumed I was just having “a moment” if they saw Susan and me laughing.) I have always been intrigued by the notion that we are supposed to have something born anew in us as we celebrate a single birth: the birth of Jesus.
I’ve always understood the composer(s) who use lines like the one that amuses me were after celebrating a new gift within each of us, something special because of what we remember happened long ago. The reason I’m always amused is because of a man at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Goldsboro, my first appointment, who always said he didn’t get the meaning of that sentiment, and whose wife always told him every time he said that dismissive line, “That’s why you need to go to church until it takes and then you will want to go some more.”
But the sentiment does take: and it is the reason to celebrate this season of Christmas and the coming Epiphany when God’s light shines on us. We celebrate that because God entered human life there is always a renewal of our hope. Our hope comes from God’s entry into our pain; an entry that does not turn away from our troubles, but rather embraces them and evidence that God will be at work in our pain and in our joys to bring us wholeness and peace, salvation.
So singing or hearing “Be born in us today” lets Jesus’ birth take me over again. May Jesus be born anew in you so that you have peace on earth and joy in heaven.
Eternal God, by the birth of Jesus Christ you gave yourself to the world. Grant that, being born in our hearts, he may save us from all our sins, and restore within us the image and likeness of our Creator, to whom be everlasting praise and glory, world without end. Amen.
The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 231
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