“Bright with heavenly grace and filled with holy light”

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

Luke 9:46-48
– Rebekah and Derek headed to church

Sunday evening, with temperatures plummeting and a real Christmassy feel in the air, Rebekah and I drove to church for the annual Christmas concert. The sanctuary was full, the choir and various ensembles were in good voice, the atmosphere was festive; it was a good evening.

When we got home I went next door to retrieve Max and say goodnight to my mother. Part of our routine involves me playing a few hymns at her piano; so I turned the pages randomly and landed on this beautiful seasonal hymn that made my eyes leak when I tried to sing along.

I’ll paste the full lyrics below, but (and you never know what is going to get you) it was this verse that touched me so deeply:

The children in each different place
Will see the baby Jesus' face
Like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
And filled with holy light.

We live in a world where there is so much prejudice based on where someone was born, where they live, and the color of their skin. And Christmas is maybe the most perfect context in which to remind ourselves of how absurd it is to make such distinctions between human beings – all made in the image of The Creator.

Then I remembered that James Taylor performed a version on his Christmas album, and I thought maybe next year I will share my interpretation at the Christmas concert? I’d have to get my guitar callouses back between now and then. Here’s J.T.’s wonderful recording:

Enjoy the music. But, more importantly, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves that Jesus came as God’s gift to everyone (absolutely everyone) in this complex, crowded, war-torn, disillusioned, suffering, broken – redeemable – world.

Jesus: bright with heavenly grace, and filled with holy light. – DEREK

Some children see Him lily white,
The baby Jesus born this night.
Some children see Him lily white,
With tresses soft and fair.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
The Lord of heav'n to earth come down.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
With dark and heavy hair.
Some children see Him almond-eyed,
This Savior whom we kneel beside.
Some children see Him almond-eyed,
With skin of yellow hue.
Some children see Him dark as they,
Sweet Mary's Son to whom we pray.
Some children see him dark as they,
And, ah! they love Him, too!
The children in each different place
Will see the baby Jesus' face
Like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
And filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing
And with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the infant King.
'Tis love that's born tonight!

Songwriters: A. Burt / W. Hutson
Some Children See Him lyrics © T.R.O. Inc.

3 comments

  1. One of my favorite Christmas hymns – because of the words. I used to have a cassette tape of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing this and I can still hear his rich, deep voice unrolling like velvet.

    Liked by 1 person

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