In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan; earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, in the bleak midwinter, long ago.
This hymn is a setting of a poem by Christina Rossetti. Known especially for her sonnets, Rossetti was a British writer who lived in the 19th-century. Though Palestine is not known for its snowy winters, the author takes the nativity story into her own context, giving us a new vision for a very ancient story.
It is a very personal hymn and yet it speaks to the heart of the gospel message at Christmas. Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain, but heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign... Christ, the Living Word of God made flesh, is the one who stands in the great divide to unite heaven and earth. More than that, God chose the lowest of places to make it clear that the true vision of God’s Kingdom is far more expansive than the one our world would create.
So what is there for us in this message? In addition to the good news of God’s work, there is also the opportunity to offer ourselves, our very lives to God’s Kingdom, here and now. All of us are lacking, and yet Christ does not desire for us to come only when we are perfect. We are to come as we are, imperfect as we are, because there is always something we can give. And it is the final verse of the hymn that offers the answer of where we begin: What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man, I would do my part; yet what I can I give him: give my heart.
Reverse Advent Calendar: Collect blankets throughout the season and work with local shelters or national groups to find where they are most needed. Then ensure they get there.