The everlasting Son
Incarnate deigns to be;
Himself a servant’s form puts on
(Charles Coffin, The Advent of our God, Hymns of the Primitive Church, 1837)
The second theme highlighted in the Advent hymn is the servant nature of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
The above quote, attributed to the Spanish mystic and Carmelite nun, Teresa of Avila, connects the intrinsic dignity we share as humans created in God’s likeness with the dignity of service modelled by Jesus. For many of us it can be difficult to see dignity in service because we have often encountered, in either subtle or flagrant form, coercion, domination and fear. We also live in a world which prizes independence and self-actualisation and scorns vulnerability or perceived ‘neediness’. These cultural imbalances and misuses of power have sometimes distorted how we understand what it means to serve each other in love.
Yet at the heart of the gospel is a call to entering in, like a child, full of curiosity and openness to the way of living together which Jesus modelled.
Lee Loun-Ling, training director for CMS Asia importantly links the nature of leadership and service in her recent summary of the impact of Asian women in the growth of Christianity:
Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922) One of India’s most revolutionary thinkers of her time, she was known as a pioneering social reformer, defying the caste system and overcoming barriers to rescue outcast children, widows, orphans, and destitute women.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)