The Hope of the World

One Little Word


We never know, can never fathom fully, the lasting power of our actions, the staying power of our words - even one little sentence, one little phrase; one little word.

A word can kill. A word can make alive.

Recently, Protestants celebrated the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, specifically about the time that Martin Luther posted his Theses on the Church Door at Wittenberg. Some of the story is apocryphal and though at the time the need for reformation and renewal of the Church was necessary - and still is in each and every church throughout the world, some aspects of the celebration struck me as mean-spirited (we were right - you were wrong; we won - you lost!) — with some of it about as helpful (in my view) as those in-your-face Orange parade marches of Protestants through Catholic districts in Belfast; sadly, carried on still today.

That being said, I thank God for Martin Luther and others who took up the call and challenge, to the authorities of the day, to take up enormous the task of reforming the Church, with the Scriptures as supreme (even in some matters as authority) and with the Church’s traditions merely to serve as guides (which might be helpful - or not-so-much, at various times and in sundry places.

At Christmas time, Luther's ‘Cradle Hymn’ moves me. It’s not simply a reminder of my childhood Christmases, Sunday School concerts and family-times gathered around the piano and Chritmas Tree…  but of the timeless Message of the Gospel, that from a Manger from which fed simple animals came forth the One who could and would feed the poor and the rich, the wise and the innocent of the world, not with earthly Bread but from the Fuilness of Heaven itself.

And then too, there is Luther’s magnificent: A Mighty Fortress  - and the assurance that i all of life, where ever and in whatever happens… our God is a bulwark never failing.

One particular phrase of this hymn grabs my awareness - and I find it difficult to sing the phrase, for the lump in my throat, my fast-beating heart - and the deep recognition that often overhwhelmes me. In the face of evil, now and then - and everywhere, brought to this planet by the Adversary of God and to each of us, to all of God’s creatures and creation, … -  brought by the powers of evil (and by hell-sent and hell-bent minions) … it is this phrase -   with all of its wonderful, powerful, truth: — ‘one little word shall fell him.’ God will get the last word… and it will be by the One who is the Word who created all things, who became flesh and lived among us for a time.

A little baby born in Bethlehem. — Fragile, in harm’s way, the child of poverty and soon himself to be, with his parents -- a refugee.

One little Child. One little word. One little Word ...

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.


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