By Bethany Riehl
September 8, 2022 was a historical day. As you surely know, Queen Elizabeth II died after 70 years as queen. While I’m not one who follows the lives of the royals other than a documentary here and there, it was nearly impossible not to catch all of the activity surrounding this event in the following days. It was truly touching to watch a country mourn their queen; it was clear she was beloved.
As we don’t have royalty here, I was enthralled by the glimpses of the funeral that I caught: the stately marches, the beautiful choir, the somber ceremony, the streets lined with mourners shouting cheers in honor of the queen as the glass hearse carrying her body drove by.
The pomp and circumstance was incredible.
So why am I opening this article in what is essentially the holiday issue of Christian Living Magazine with this?
As I watched the funeral for this royal, I couldn’t help but think of King Jesus and His birth, life, death, and resurrection. The Creator of the Universe became God in the flesh in a quiet and humble way.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
It’s easy to forget that with all of our traditions – the music, the lights, the parties, and plays and food and merriment. While the manger scene makes for a lovely display on a shelf or spread across a front lawn, the true moment wasn’t nearly so grand.
We read in Matthew and Luke the familiar story of Jesus’ birth and it has such a special glow about it – the angels telling of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, the majestic wise men coming with their gifts, a new star; it all comes together for us in such a peaceful way as we turn down the lights in church on Christmas Eve and pass our candle flame one to another while singing “Silent Night.”
But that’s just not a complete picture of how humble He really became on our behalf.
The God of all creation became an embryo not able to be seen by human eyes.
The God who said, “Let there be light!” tucked Himself into the darkness of the womb.
The God who formed marble, gold, diamonds, and silver was born to a poor mother in the dirt with a manger for a bed.
Our Bread of Life felt hunger.
He who controls the ocean and causes rain to fall from the sky and blankets the earth with dew felt thirst.
He walked, He slept, He healed, He taught, He comforted, He wept, He preached repentance.
He was mocked, questioned, schemed against, beaten…slaughtered.
Buried in a borrowed grave.
He rose triumphantly, yes! But…no pomp. No circumstance. At least not here.
Watching the Queen’s funeral procession compared with what I know of Jesus’ intentional life of humility was jarring.
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
My yearly anticipated Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions are hitting different as I think on that this year. For me, He lived this way. I can’t be saved on my own; I needed His sacrifice and He gave it.
He lived the life I could not live, died the death I deserved to die, and rose again to give me new life.
I owe Him everything. Every breath, every minute, every conversation – all should be to bring Him glory, praise, and honor. How can I, small and insignificant, possibly give Jesus the glory He deserves for such a sacrifice?
Lights, advent, carols, and gifts?
Utterly pathetic and insignificant in light of all He has done.
And yet, even in this, He provides for us.
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The day is coming when the Humble Servant will reign as Conquering King. Do you know Him? Do your loved ones know Him?
As we transition into a season of Advent and our merry remembering of all He has done, let us be sure that our family, friends, and neighbors know this King Jesus and the great things He has done. Come, let us adore Him and proclaim Him, knowing that one day we will be witnesses as God Himself incites and provides for us to worship Him perfectly.
Note: All Scripture taken from Philippians 2:5-11.