Family Photos from Christmas 2009 in Terre Haute, IN

Click Here to View Photos from Our Trip to Terre Haute, Indiana for Christmas, 2009.

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What Child is This? Part 2

We looked today at part 2 of our message entitled, “What Child is This?” Last week we saw that He was a Child with a Nature that is Supernatural. This morning, we saw He was a Child with a Name that is Supreme. We looked at the four names given to Christ in Isaiah 9:6. He is the (1) Wonderful Counselor, (2) Mighty God, (3) Everlasting Father, (4) Prince of Peace. You may listen to this message by following this link or visit our sermons page.

What Child is This – Part 1

William Chatterton Dix was an insurance man by trade — but he was a poet at heart.  Chances are, however, that we might never have heard of this man nor of any of his poems had it not been for a near-fatal illness that struck him while relatively young in life.  As his strength was robbed of him and he was confined to bed for many months, laying near death, he often reflected on his faith. Reading his Bible and studying the works of respected theologians, William Dix reaffirmed his belief in not only Christ as Savior but in the power of God to move in his own life.  Not long after regaining his strength, Dix produced some of the wonderful songs we sing still to this day.

While many around him ignored Christmas altogether, William Dix set out during Christmas of 1865 to write of the first Christmas.  At first, he did not share his poem with his friends and family – a poem which was quickly written in a single session.  His original title was “The Manger Throne,” and the song’s words presented a unique view of the birth of Christ.
While the baby was the focal point of the song, the viewpoint of the writer seemed to be that of an almost confused observer.  In a stroke of brilliance, Dix imagined visitors to the humble manger wondering who the child was that lay before them. Employing this special perspective, the author wove a story of the child’s birth, life, death, and resurrection – each verse answering with a triumphant declaration of the Infant’s divine nature.

However, it was not until an unknown Englishman took Dix’s poem and combined them with the melody Greensleves (dating back to the 1500’s) that the song became immensely popular in both England and America.  William Chatterton Dix died in 1898, but he lived long enough to see his poem “The Manger Throne,” become the much beloved Christmas carol “What Child is This?”

“What Child is This?” That is a question that should be echoing throughout society this time of year. Instead there is a truly mixed-up understanding of Christmas. One preacher put it this way:

  • Santa has replaced the Savior
  • Rudolph has replaced the Redeemer
  • Feasting has replaced faith
  • Toys have replaced truth
  • Glittering lights have replaced God’s love

Sunday morning, we began a two-part message which asked that question, “What child is this?” You can listen to this message by following this link or visit our sermons page.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Charles Wesley of England was without doubt one of the most productive hymn writers and preachers of all time. Yet, strangely enough, Wesley was able to get only one hymn poem into the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer, and that one by error! An eighteenth century printer didn’t know that the “established Church” of England frowned with disapproval upon Wesley’s hymns. Since he needed material to fill an empty space in the new hymnal, he took it upon himself to insert a Christmas poem called, “Hark, How All the Welkins Rings!” by an Anglican clergyman named Charles Wesley. When the error was discovered attempts were made to have it removed, but it proved so popular that it was allowed to remain. It was written in 1738, but is still very moving today.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and  mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born  in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Interesting Fact: To celebrate the invention of the printing press, Felix Mendelssohn composed a cantata in 1840 called Festgesang or “Festival Song”. The melody of Mendelssohn’s cantata was then used by William H. Cummings and adapted it to the lyrics of Wesley’s “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”.

Christmas is Costly

It cost Mary and Joseph the comforts of home during a long period of exile in Egypt to protect the little Babe. It cost mothers in and around Bethlehem the massacre of their babies by the cruel order of Herod. It cost the shepherds the complacency of their shepherds’ life, with the call to the manger and to tell the good news. It cost the wise men a long journey and expensive gifts and changed lives. It cost the early apostles and the early church persecution and sometimes death. It cost missionaries of Christ untold suffering and privation to spread the good news. It cost Christian martyrs in all ages their lives for Christ’s sake. More than all this, it cost God the Father His own Son–He sent Him to the earth to save men. It cost Jesus a life of sacrifice and service, a death cruel and unmatched in history.

A Rare Christmas Day

By Lindsay Terry

The angel’s halo was a little crooked and the shepherds had their pants rolled up under their bathrobes, but something wonderful was about to take place. A beautiful song was soon to be born. Audrey Mieir who wrote that song, tells us what happened on that day, one of those rare Christmases that came on Sunday:

“We wanted to do something special in our little church, Bethel Union Church in Duarte, California. The pastor was my brother-in-law. We were using the young people in a Christmas presentation. Mary was a teenage girl and the angels were young boys. The baby was a doll.

“The atmosphere was charged. I so often have thought that I could hear the rustling of angels’ wings. It seemed that the whole room was filled with the presence of the angels of God.

“I looked down at the little children and they were sitting there with open mouths, thinking, as they listened to the soft organ music. I looked around at the older people and they were wiping tears away, remembering other Christmases gone by.

“The pastor stood up and slowly lifted his hands toward heaven and said, ‘His name is Wonderful!’ Those words electrified me. I immediately began writing in the back of my Bible. As I wrote I was thinking that God has something He wants said. I wrote a simple chorus and I sang it that night for the young people around the piano. They sang it immediately. It wasn’t hard for them to learn. I never dreamed that it would go any further, but it has traveled around the world in many languages.”

Audrey Mieir was born in Pennsylvania in 1916. She began her songwriting career at age sixteen. How thankful we should be that God chose to use her talents to praise Him with these simple but powerful words:

His name is Wonderful,
His name is Wonderful,
His name is Wonderful,
Jesus, my Lord.
He is the mighty King.
Master of everything.
His name is Wonderful,
Jesus, my Lord.
He’s the great Shepherd,
The Rock of all ages.
Almighty God is He;
Bow down before Him,
Love and adore Him,
His name is Wonderful,
Jesus, my Lord.

Reflection: Is the name of Jesus wonderful to you today and every day? Sing a song of praise and you will feel closer to Him. You, too, will experience that “His Name Is Wonderful.”

Lindsay Terry
Forward Leadership Resources
Rowlett, Texas