Thursday 21st December 2023
A Favourite Advent Hymn
We have now reached the final verse of the hymn, “Creator of the stars of night”.
This final verse reads as follows:
“All praise, eternal Son, to thee,
Whose advent sets thy people free,
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Spirit blest, for evermore”.
Yesterday, we looked at the second line of this verse, and the idea that the coming of Jesus sets the whole people of God free from all that imprisons and diminishes. The idea that Jesus’ coming sets God’s people free is put in a wider context: the worship of God the Holy Trinity. I’m going to share some thoughts on this wider context in today’s reflections, the final reflection in the current series.
It is easy to forget that Christmas isn’t just about God the Son, taking human flesh in Jesus Christ. It’s a story which involves all three Persons of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. God the Father sent his Son to take human flesh, to be born as one of us; to die for us; and to rise again to new life. Both God the Father and God the Son work in and through the power of God the Holy Spirit. This is why the accounts of the birth of Jesus found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke are full of references to the work of the Holy Spirit. St. John, writing his Gospel, chose to omit the traditional stories about the birth of Jesus, but he too emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit in his description of the Baptism of Christ. St. Mark takes a similar approach to St. John, choosing to omit the traditional Christmas stories but making an explicit reference to the work of the Holy Spirit in his account of Jesus’ baptism.
Our hymn has reached a simple but profound conclusion: our Advent preparations should lead us to worship God the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – with renewed devotion. As I write these words, the following verse seems apposite – and with these words I bring the current series of reflections to an end, wishing you all a holy and blessed Christmas:
“O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
Bow down before him, his glory proclaim;
With gold of obedience, and increase of lowliness,
Kneel and adore him, the Lord is his name!”