Saturday, December 06, 2008


The genius of Christianity is found in the incarnation. The love of God is most clearly seen and experienced when God puts on flesh and blood in Jesus and completely identifies with humanity.

The corollary of the incarnation is contextualization. Putting on flesh involves being found in a specific culture with a specific worldview and a way of experiencing the world that reflects that context. While Jesus experienced the world in his context, we experience Jesus in ours and we overlay him with our understandings and experiences. While some would argue that that moves us a step, or many steps, away from the historical Jesus, I think it is part of God's plan that we bring Jesus into our contexts.

My favorite Christmas carol is one that celebrates the way we contextualize Jesus. It is called Some Children See Him. It was written by Alfred Burt and Wihla Hutson in 1951. Burt wrote 15 carols that accompanied Christmas cards his family sent from 1942-1954.

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!

My favorite recording of the carol was done by Stacy Sullivan. Take a listen to her version on her CD, Cold Enough to Snow. I cry every time I listen to it. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a video of her version.

Here's a video interpretation of the carol sung by James Taylor. You get a taste of the song even though the arrangement is a bit schmaltzy.

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