Charles Wesley - the great hymn writer of the 18th century, wrote more than 6, 000 hymns in his life time. A fantastic feat for a man who together with his older brother, John was instrumental in bringing revival to England and thus saved their nation from the brink of social and moral chaos and destruction. Among all his beautiful hymns, “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” may be deemed as one of his best. Why is it so? In singing this hymn we do not only join the shepherds under the shinning hosts of the angelic choir, we also learn about the Jesus they proclaimed. We discover Who He is and What His coming means.
On the 5th of December, the world received the news of the death of a great man, Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected President of South Africa. What he did and achieved for South Africa only time will tell. He fought against apartheid laws, racial and social discriminations. So passionate and determined was he to his cause that he made his famous statement before the court during the Rivonia trial in 1964: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. It is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” For that conviction, he was sentenced to life imprisonment in the notorious prison on Robben Island. Having suffered for 27 long years under the hands of the apartheid government, it was so amazing to say the least that he did not harbor any spirit of hatred or vengeance. When a question was put to him in an interview: “After such barbarous torment, how do you keep hatred in check?” he answered: “Hating clouds the mind. It gets in the way of strategy. Leaders cannot afford to hate”. It is no wonder when news of his demise was announced the whole country went into deep mourning and celebration at the same time. It took one man with a single-minded vision to achieve peace, harmony and reconciliation for his nation and inspired millions all over the world to work for peace and unity.
Long before Mr. Nelson Mandela was born, another Man came and brought peace and reconciliation to a world filled with oppressions, hatred, jealousies and sufferings. What Jesus did far outweigh what Nelson Mandela had accomplished. By His death, He reconciled our human race to God and consequently established peace and harmony among men. Many today celebrate Christmas as a season of joy, goodwill and love, but few really know the reasons why He came. Let the words of Charles Wesley’s carol inform us: “Born that man no more may die; Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give us second birth.” For this and so much more, He deserves our praise. Glory to the newborn King! We may not move a nation like Nelson Mandela but we could at least do our small part by proclaiming to our friends, relatives and neighbours the glad tidings of “glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”
Rev. Mark Tay