To us a Child of Hope is born,
to us a Son is given;
Him shall the tribes of earth obey,
Him all the hosts of heaven —
Him shall the tribes of earth obey, Him all the hosts of heaven.
His name shall be the Prince of Peace,
For evermore adored,
The Wonderful, the Counselor
the great and mighty Lord,
the Wonderful, the Counselor, the great and mighty Lord.
His power, increasing, still shall spread,
His reign no end shall know;
Justice shall guard His throne above,
and peace abound below —
Justice shall guard His throne above and peace abound below.
I awoke with the haunting words and melody of this hymn of Christmas in my head — A Child of Hope.
For too many people and for lots and lots of reasons, the birth of children do not signal hope. Instead — heartache, suffering, hard times and more hard times, anguish….pain. I know all that we say about Mary, Jesus’ mother….but sometimes, I wish I could have been privy to what was going on in her mind when the Angel left, when family members weighed in….what did she see in Joseph’s eyes at first…really…when she shared with him her news?
Why did she really need to go and spend three months with her cousin, Elizabeth, John’s mother? Maybe three months was the cooling off period?
I don’t know — we will never know. But this is for sure: part of the reason that Jesus is a child of Hope is because regardless of how he was conceived, the questions that surrounded that conception and whatever their families were thinking — Mary kneeled down and Joseph stepped up.
Mary kneeled down…and Joseph stepped up.
Mary praised and prayed.
Joseph embraced a life that he didn’t create, but one that would be his to shape and nurture.
We still need children to be “of hope” — not to suffer the soul-branding anguish that comes with facing the lingering questions, doubts, and uncertainties of their circumstances, anguish that often follows them throughout their lives. That Jesus still suffered the community’s gossip, name-calling and constant questioning about his parentage as he grew up even though Joseph embraced him for all to see and bound him to his lineage tells us just vulnerable children are –even this Child — to adult “name-calling.”
Yet…this Child taught us some hopeful things…
–That even young children can be about “their Father’s business” — we should “open our Temples” and embrace their questions.
–That our family bloodlines are not anywhere near as all-encompassing as families united by His blood — we should be even more willing to make a place within our circle for God’s beloved.
–That regardless of the circumstances of our birth…even two thousand years later…He shares with us the One he called “Our Father” — affirming the declaration of the psalmist who declared that if our earthly mothers and fathers forsake us, He will take us up.
We still need children of Hope — children who are taught that they are precious, who have names of endearment whispered into their ears, who are embraced by strong men and prayed for by courageous women, whose names are inserted into the community history — the lineage — and who are assured without a shadow of doubt, over and over again, that there is One who is stronger than the pull of any of our circumstances.
Kneel down Mary…and step up Joseph….trust God to do the rest.