During Advent at Knox, you'll hear a familiar refrain:
"When God is a Child, there's joy in our song! The last shall be first, and the weak shall be strong. And none shall be afraid!"
Singing Hope is a Star is an annual Advent tradition at Knox, and is sung to reflect the themes of the Advent season: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Beautiful hand-made banners are displayed too, each portraying a modern (Vancouver inspired!) interpretation of the hymn's lyrics.
Written by preacher and hymn-poet Brian Wren and published in 2003, Hope is a Star / When God is a Child now appears in four denominational hymnaries, including the United Church of Canada's Voices United. The lyrics are most commonly sung to the tune Moon Beams by Joan Collier Fogg, but can also be sung to Gates, composed by John E. Carter.
Wren's lyrics draw on the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke, 2 Corinthians and Galatians, using both the story of the Magi and prophecy to paint a picture of the world in the reign of the coming Christ:
"When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy." - Matthew 2: 9-10
"Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” - Luke 13:30
Questions for reflection:
- What does it mean to be "first" in contemporary society? Whom does society view as "last"?
- What evidence is there that God is working now, in our midst, to alleviate fear and opression?
- How does God call us to live, in order that no one must surrender their safety or dignity?