Are any of you familiar with the Appalachian inspired Christmas hymn, “I Wonder As I Wander?” When I first heard the words of this piece, I have to say that I was troubled. The first verse says, “I wonder as I wander out under the sky, how Jesus the Savior did come for to die. For poor on’ry people like you and like I…I wonder as I wander out under the sky.” I first heard this song when I was around high school age. It bothered me because I didn’t like the future of the baby Jesus.
I always enjoyed the idea of the baby safe in the arms of his mother, Mary with the cattle lowing around him (just like “Away in a Manger” says). I didn’t like the thought of this innocent baby one day being nailed to a cross. I always tried to keep Christmas and Holy Week totally separate in my mind. When the angels appeared to the shepherds, they were told that a savior had been born and he was lying in a manger in Bethlehem. The angels didn’t go on to say how he would save His people.
As I have pondered all this over the years, the thought came to me that had Jesus not come, we would not have been saved. We can celebrate the coming of the Savior because we know that he saved us. Not only did He save us but his ministry was spent trying to teach us the nature of God. The song that has troubled me does bring out one idea. It says that Jesus came to save ornery people. I believe that we know what that means. An ornery person is one that in the best of terms is one with whom it is hard to get along. That person is more than just grumpy, they are mean. And yet Jesus came to save them too.
Every year, we celebrate the birth of the Savior, Jesus the Christ. I’m glad that He came to save this ornery person (me). And as we celebrate Jesus’ birth, let us not forget the profound love of a merciful and gracious God for making this happen.
I look forward to seeing all of you on Sunday when our children will present the Nativity pageant at 10:00 and the Christmas Choir will present their Christmas program at 11:00.