Coventry Carol

Lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.
Lullay, Thou little tiny Child.
By, by, lully, lullayb

The days in which God determines Jesus was to arrive here on earth were tremulous ones.

Great political unrest, overtaxing, long hard days forced to serve ‘landlords’ not of your choosing. Revolution was constantly simmering when it wasn’t breaking out against the oppressors.

God’s people were crying out for their Messiah.

When Herod began the slaughter of all the boy children of Israel in the hopes of destroying the newborn King, many families were suddenly grieving and wailing and grieving over the sudden loss of their children.

For you know who hoped to stop God in His tracks, in a feeble attempt to undermine His will, but a very costly one to those left with empty arms and wounded hearts.

Many likely thought all hope was lost.

And into that exact time and place, God chose to deliver His people through Jesus, soon to be delivered into the world as one of His people, as well as His Beloved son.

God did not let the madness of one fearful king halt the delivery method He was choosing to set His people free.

We know that God has always heard the cries of His people for deliverance, and mourned with them over their losses. The Bible is full of true life stories of His rescues.

If you are empty armed, missing your loved one, whether they have passed on or are on the other side of the country or world?

God hears your pain and lament.

I believe this song must have been written by someone who lost a child, and was horrified by reading the account of Herod killing an entire generation of boys.

We all should be, for God was horrified by it as well.

So full of compassion for His people, He sent His Son to us, to give us a beacon of Hope we could reach out and touch.

Because our God is the God of all comfort, justice, hope and compassion.

He couldn’t turn away from the cries of the brokenhearted. The frustrated. The poor. The exhausted. The empty armed. Those grieving. Those without hope.

This Christmas, if you hear this song of lament, be reminded of His compassion.

Each person ever in history has mattered to Him.

Those you have lost or had taken from you included.

Jesus came as one of the weakest to show us that weakness does not mean God cannot use you.

He came as one of us to show us that God understands the frailties of humanity first hand.

He came as an expression of God’s great love for each and every one of us.

And is right there beside us when we are hurting, feeling lost, wavering in our hope, and needing a God would can reach out and hold us as we lament.

So if you need to cry this Christmas, for it isn’t the holiday you thought it would be?

Allow Him to rock you in His loving arms as you lament.

God came right smack dab in the middle of turmoil to be there with us, for us, as one of us.

That same Love has not changed, and never will.
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Historical Background:

This lyrics for this piece were written in 1534 for a Christmas pageant by Robert Croo, the composer is still unknown, but believed to be in the early 1500’s.

when you are asked to flee…Joseph

After the wise men were gone, God’s angel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him.” Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod’s death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: “I called my son out of Egypt.”

-Matthew 2:13-15

Joseph was likely thinking now that Jesus had been born, things in his family life would settle down for a while. They would have Jesus named on the way home, Mary would spend her time recovering and they would begin their new life together. It is possible Joseph may have rented a place in Jerusalem and found some work as a carpenter while Mary finished her purification period after giving birth, as traveling too far with a newborn was not the best idea for everyone’s sanity.

So we pick up the story Joseph may have believed finished and discover Joseph to be the feature again.

We know that Herod flew into a rage when he realized the wise men were not coming back to betray the new born King, but there is no sign that Joseph or Mary knew of the danger until the angel appears to Joseph again.

Humble, faithful Joseph has now seen an angel twice in his dreams.
Both times, he is informed of news no one else knew by the angel.

Interesting to note, he clearly recognized the angel in his dreams, and believed the words spoken enough to life alteringly act upon them.

The first time, Joseph was told Mary was carrying Messiah & to marry her, raising the child as his own.

This time? He is told to wake up, take Mary & the child and flee to Egypt, for Herod wants to kill Jesus.

I am guessing this was an early enough warning timing wise to get them to safety before Herod’s horrible plan began.

I know that the gifts Jesus had been given by the wise men were no accident, as all three were hot commodities to trade with, and would likely have been enough to cover all their expenses while in Egypt. Because God would certainly have provided for Jesus again. Note it mentions that this would be a fulfillment of calling His son out of Egypt in verse 15.

As Egypt was not likely on the best of terms with Israel over the whole escape from slavery issue, Joseph may not have been able to get work there as an immigrant.

God would have taken all of this into account to get the Carpenters ready for their sudden trip & extended stay in Egypt.

The other noteworthy point to observe? Joseph immediately woke up and while it was still dark, had the family well under way to Egypt by daylight.

Simply put, his obedience saved Jesus.

Not sure about you, but I would have been more than a little freaked at a second angelic visit while I was sleeping. I wonder if it took Joseph just that bit longer every night for a while to fall asleep. Tentatively wondering if an angel would speak to him yet again.

So how does this impact us, the readers of the Advent story?

I see three clear ways.

1. When God sends an angel to speak to us, we should do what it says.

2. God can speak to us while we are sleeping, not just while we are awake!

3. Some times its the right time to just pick up and go.

We leave today’s continuation of #AdventuresinAdvent with the Carpenters fleeing to Egypt, as Herod’s horror is unleashed on the families of Israel.

#TheWhenSeries
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Image from: http://jlgragg.org/2011/01/05/beyond-the-season-celebrating-christ-after-christmas/nativity-2/

when the world & heaven collide…Herod

There was once a king.
Not born a king, but appointed.
A very paranoid king, he wiped out all opposition to his throne, real or perceived: at least one wife, one son, a few other relations. He was known as the butcher in some circles. His name?

Herod.
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image from the Nativity Story

Not to be confused with his son & namesake, Herod Antipas, this Herod was called ‘the Great’ historically. But I am going to call him Herod for the post today. For he too was just a man.

When our Advent story took place, Herod was in power, established on the throne of Israel by Rome.
Rome had a way of collecting taxes and constantly being on the look out for rebellion, two things Herod too took part in regularly. The Jews were heavily taxed, not only for their usual temple tax, but Herod’s expensive building fund (Masada, and several more landmarks) and Rome’s demands on top. Many in Israel were struggling to make ends meet, especially in the smaller towns with less industry.

Now Herod ruled by keeping a very close eye on the pulse of Israel. He knew the Jews (of which he had become one in order to rule, but was not born to it) were waiting for the Messiah, and like the rest of Israel, they all expected a man to announce himself, one who will free Israel by force from Rome’s grip.

It is most likely Herod was keeping an eye on any perceived Messiah contenders, and would have had a plan in place to swiftly deal with any who would appear. Remember, Herod killed his own flesh & blood, so there is not a lot of compassion going on within this ruler.

Enter the wise men into this already powder keg situation.
They arrive in Jerusalem, and announce themselves to the palace to meet King Herod.

Not to offer platitudes or humble themselves before him, but to ask assistance to locate the baby King of the Jews who is about to be or has been recently born!

I believe this set off a fury in Herod that has only been matched a few times in history, and cemented his rule as blood thirsty for all time, but not immediately set into action.

First, he asked the wise men to return and let him know where they found the child so He too could worship him, the new King of the Jews. Sneaky strategy to ask genuine seekers to help betray the one they seek.

When they were warned not to return to Herod, I believe the full impact of what they had accidentally done must have weighed heavy on the wise men’s hearts.

When they failed to return to Herod within the expected timeline, his rage exploded, and he decided to kill every male infant from birth to 2 years in a set targeted area. And swiftly set his troops out to do his bidding.

How this must have echoed the murder of the Jewish baby boys in Egypt to the Israelites. A second targeted annihilation attempting to foil God’s plans for deliverance, at great cost to His people.

We know how this story ends, but in that moment, Herod’s plan would have looked like it was a success, and the mourning wail that arose? The sound of hair raising grief at such loss.

When heavengriefearth collide, God is not surprised.
He never is when evil raises its head to strike.
He made a way….

More on that tomorrow!

#TheWhenSeries
#AdventuresinAdvent
#LoveCameDown