On Singing Christmas…

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.(Luke 2:8-14)

I know, I know, I’ve already heard it all, every year. Christmas is a pagan holiday, the celebration of the winter solstice, a christianised celebration of the feast of Bauchus. The Yule log is Celtic paganism, the decorated tree is all about Babylonian Tamuz worship, and besides all that Jesus probably even born in December! Right?

But once a year, there is a holiday ,that however imperfectly, commemorates the Incarnation of God into this sin “weary world”. It wouldn’t matter to us what month or day, because the Bible doesn’t give us the birthdate of Jesus. What matters is that “unto us a child is born, and unto us a son is given“.I love it.

Upon my conversion to Jesus Christ somewhere around 1977-78, I remember being amazed to find around Christmas time, that the familiar words to the carols I had sung for years actually conveyed powerful ,relevant,theological meaning.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

 

Tears streamed down my face as I sang again the songs I had Known and loved since childhood, now realizing personally the depth of the message,

“…God and sinners reconciled…veiled in flesh, the Godhead see,Hail the incarnate Deity, pleased as man with man to dwell,Jesus our Emmanuel…Born to raise the Sons of earth, born to give them second birth…”

Everywhere I go this time of year, I hear this evangel streaming from the radio, covered by popular singers, pouring out of loudspeakers at shopping malls,sung by choirs and carolers in the streets themselves. Personally , I love it.

Who knows how many hard hearts have been touched, melted, perhaps even turned back to God in repentance. by Lyrics such as ;

“Silent Night, Holy Night , Son of God, Loves pure Light, radiant beams from thy Holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace, Christ our Saviour is born…Silen night, Holy Night, Shepherds quake, at the sight, Glories stream from heaven afar,Heavenly Hosts sing Hallelujah, Christ the Saviour is born…”

And yet as I was for years, so many are oblivious to the meaning of the songs of the “Heavenly Hosts”, repeated every Christmas season. But this is as it was at the first Noel. How else could it be that of all the people of Judea, who had long been promised a coming deliverer, that only the lonely and despised Shepherds heard the Angelic songs ?

“Gloria ,Gloria,Gloria, in Exelcis Deo !…Glory to God in the Highest and Peace on earth to Men with whom He is pleased!”

We are told that the Sovereign God himself has chosen to  hide the things of God from the wise of this Age, yet reveals them unto babes in his sight ,

At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.(Matthew 11:24-28)

How fitting, that not to the powerful, but to the lowly, and not into a palace or temple, but into a lowly, filthy  barn, basically a cave, did the “High and Lofty God”, from of Old, choose to condescend unto us, in order to save us.

You would have to be willing to stoop to enter into the place where “unto us The child was born…” even as one would have to stoop 33 years later to enter into the other cave, the empty tomb! Don’t you love it? Has the Incarnation of God yet done its softening work in your heart?

But other than scripture who says it better than Philip Brooks,the hymnist who gave us “O Little Town of Bethlehem”?

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may his His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in

Merry Christmas everybody!

 

 





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3 Responses to On Singing Christmas…

  1. Travis says:

    Well said, Merry Christmas Pastor Bill!

    Blessing
    Travis

  2. Margaret Webb says:

    Still tears come with these words and choke my voice as I read them to my husband. Thank you for a blessed greeting to send to all on my email list. I have long been jaded about the ‘pagan’ part but this year found peace with the fact that somehow, somewhere, someone might be drawn to the true Christ.
    God Bless you and your family

  3. julie says:

    Amen! I had the exact same experience as you — the old familiar carols came alive after the Lord’s grace toward me too. New found appreciation and wonder at their rich truths. And still the glad tidings come, year after year. Is this a small part of what the scripture means in Philippians 2 where it says that every tongue will confess…yes every tongue does confess already and more will in eternity.

    Merry Christmas!!

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