Let earth and heaven combine
In the previous incarnation of a circuit I was part of many, many moons ago, in our local preachers’ meeting one year, we studied this hymn. I think (having only just started as a trainee preacher) it was the first time I had ever paid proper attention to the imagery and the language it contains, and who, apart from Charles Wesley (or possibly Isaac Watts) could ever fit the word ‘incomprehensibly’ into a line?
I think this is a very adult carol. It doesn’t have a sickly-sweet tune, there are no lowing cattle, no Mary or Joseph, no wise men or shepherds. There are no swaddling clothes either but a baby ‘wrapped in our clay’ taking us back to the beginning of the story of creation. There is a brief mention of angels in the second line praising the incarnate Deity and maybe they don’t understand either what God is doing here. Or how.
But let’s also notice the last two verses. Open the hymn book and read it with fresh eyes. See how the focus shifts to us as Christians? The work of Christ, to bring each of us, including our ‘vileness’, into the love of God, to make us divine, made perfect in love and sanctified by grace.
No Mary or Joseph, or wise men or shepherds. Just the good news of Christmas in all its glory.
Incomprehensible. But true.
may the story of your incarnation
be new and fresh to us again this Christmas
and may each of us be ‘lost’ in you,
in your love and mercy and grace. Amen