A Celebration of New Life

by Keith G. Berryman

Day 10 of Advent

More than 700 years before Mary laid her firstborn child in a Bethlehem manger, Isaiah called his people to lift their eyes toward that day when "a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit" (Isaiah 11:1, NIV).

This stirring Christmas hymn appeals to us to celebrate in quiet reflection the fulfillment of that ancient promise. Listen to the blending of joy and melancholy in the words, matched perfectly to the tune. You will sense an invitation to spend long moments contemplating a curious tension between triumph and sorrow, between rejoicing in the long-awaited arrival of the Christ and the awful awareness of what lay in store for Him.

At Christmas, we rightfully celebrate the blossoming and blooming of life and light from out of death and darkness. "In Him was life," John proclaims, "and that life was the light of all mankind" (John 1:3, NIV). New and vibrant, the Rose springs up from the dead shoot, fills the earth with His fragrance and beauty…and we rejoice! But we do not gaze adoringly at the Baby for long until we recall the reason He had to come. His ultimate purpose in becoming flesh and dwelling among us was "not to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45, ESV). Suddenly, our celebration is tempered with a somber humility.

His coming is an undeniable display of "God's love aright." The light of His life does indeed dispel darkness, save us from sin and death, and lighten our load. What can we do but rejoice? Yet all of this is possible not only because of His birth, but ultimately by His death. It is no mystery, therefore, when in the midst of our celebration we find within our spirit a peculiar mélange of irrepressible joy and profound sorrow.

Join the throng of believers who for 400 years have accepted the invitation of this hymn to stand during the season of Advent somewhere between exultation and mourning. Revel in the joy of God’s coming to restore life and light, and let your heart be broken by the sacrifice He paid in order to offer those gifts to us.

More importantly, let us accept His invitation to follow Him, living by His example of selfless service to the Father and the world He so loves. In this way, the life and light of Jesus continuously spring up out of death and darkness. And in that way, the world is always greeted by the ever-present, ever-new, fragrance and beauty of the Rose ever blooming in us.

Click the play button above to hear "Lo How A Rose E're Blooming" performed by DBU University Chorale

Recording Engineer: Klair Julian | Written and arranged by: Hugo Distler

Keith G. Berryman, Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church Farmington, New Mexico, is a current Ph.D. in Leadership Studies student with a concentration in Ministry Leadership at Dallas Baptist University.

The DBU University Chorale is an auditioned, touring choral ensemble featuring DBU music and music business students. In addition to tours in Europe, the Chorale has performed throughout the United States, with notable concerts at Carnegie Hall, the National Cathedral, and The White House.