On Singing Christmas…Christmas sermon # 4

On Singing Christmas…
Posted on December 18, 2010
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?

My friends who de-cry the paganization of Christmas are to be applauded, I think their work is important, and people need to be made aware of how close we all are to God dishonoring paganism which we are surrounded with. Many of my preacher friends are adamant about Christmas and Easter celebrations, and the defiling traditions associated with them.

But on the other hand we are told by the apostle, “Don’t let your good be evil spoken of…”.

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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22 Responses to On Singing Christmas…Christmas sermon # 4

  1. Elizabeth Walker says:

    Dear Pastor Bill, I find your sermons so helpful but I can’t go along with you on this one. ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ is indeed one of the most wonderfully theological hymns about the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ and we should be free to sing it ALL year as we thank Him every day for His incarnation. I believe your pastor friends are right so I won’t go into the details as you already know all of it. All one can say is, if you seek the Lord with a really open heart, and really willing to forgo it if it is indeed wrong, then He will surely answer, like He has has done to many others. It is mainly Christians who wrongly promote this festival as being the birthday of the Lord and it is also done through an emphasis on children which is tragic. it’s hard to stop celebrating when you have done that. Today there was a wonderful opportunity given to me to witness to two people (they brought the subject up, not me) about why I did NOT celebrate Christmas – they wanted to know because they confessed that they HATED it. One was saved, one was not. They were both astounded that Christ-mass was not mentioned in the Bible, that the apostles never apparently asked Mary when the Lord’s birthday was so that they could have an annual festival (or asked the Lord himself). Of course Christians always bring up Romans 5 here but this is not valid as it is speaking of pagan festivals not of Jewish festivals which young Jewish Christians were troubled about. I know you know of all this from your pastor brethren. I also find that it is Christians who are really offended and sometimes angry if the subject ever comes up which is really sad. I will say no more, Pastor Bill, but its food for thought that Christ-mass Day is on the Lord’s Day this year so hopefully we will all be giving that priority most of all. May the Lord bless you greatly for all you teach us on here. Thank you.

    • billrandles says:

      Elizabeth thanks so mud, not only for the insight, and input bit for the beautiful gracious tone. I see where you and my other friends are coming from and very much respect it. Even the testimony about being able o witness to your hatred of Christmas, and how it touched two friends of your. I see also why people hate Christmas, especially as it increasingly veers toward hedonistic paganism, obligatory gift giving, and all of the commercial and materialistic nonsense which has so commercialized the day. I almost feel compelled to explain why I do have a very religious observance of the day, in order to fulfill the admonition “don’t let your good be evil spoken of…”. I don’t do Yule, Santa Claus or any of the other pagan tripe. I sing “christmas Carols” all year round, and do not think it important , the precise date of Christ’s birth. It just so happens that we remember the incarnation of our Lord, witness to people through Carols and have a throughly Christian holiday every late December. Pray for us, I will consider what you have said and am so glad to count you as a true Christian friend- Love in Jesus-Pas Bill

      On Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 11:28 AM, Pastor Bill Randles Blog wrote:

      >

  2. Elizabeth Walker says:

    Sincere apologies – I wrote the Romans 5 part wrongly – I meant that Paul was speaking of JEWISH festivals not pagan ones.

  3. Eileen Webb says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Pastor Bill. thank you for the encouragement. I, too, have heard all the naysayers about Christmas. But I was telling my husband, if there wasn’t anything to Christmas why has Satan tried so hard to destroy it? The substitution with Santa, the commercialization, the replacement of Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays or Season Greetings. But the message and the music can fill our hearts this time of year and always. The Lord bless you this year. Eileen Webb

    • billrandles says:

      Thanks Eileeen. I appreciate your input although I do not regard people like Elizabeth to be naysayers(I am sure neither do you). Earnestly sincere people can differ on this point.It is true that “Christmas” is targeted by the Atheists, secularists and Muslims, and we should all ask ourselves why?

    • Eileen Webb says:

      Pastor Bill No, my response wasn’t to Elizabeth or anyone else. I just wanted to thank you and wish you a Merry Christmas. I have respect for anyone’s belief on this issue. Rom 14:5-8
      I’ve never commented before and didn’t realize that others besides you would see it.

  4. So beautifully put Bill, I agree whole-heartedly with you …. let everyone be persuaded in their own mind and not take each other to task on this.

  5. Elizabeth Walker says:

    Dear Pastor Bill, please forgive me again – I was referring to Romans 14:5-6 not Romans 5 (as I am sure you already immediately noticed!). I should be more careful to check. I am so sorry if I have offended with ‘naysaying’, as no offence was intended to either of you, just speaking the truth as I personally find it in the Word of God.

  6. CHRIS SAUNDERS says:

    Absolutely.. sing the good news loud!

  7. Lovey says:

    Merry Christmas!

    As one who for a short season had our family not “do” Christmas I researched the Scriptures to learn what the heart of this issue is

    Like many truths we glean from study and rightly dividing of scripture …ALL scriptures I now celebrate and “keep ” Christmas with assurance that it is as you well expressed the season where the Lord is made much of in all the truths we are to be equipped with to contend for THE FAITH which is more on the surface of the minds of peopleT this time than many of the other seasons of the year

    Just as many would make an “issue” of the dates and times and origins as they see it we are given the opportunity to present the gospel in truth

    The issue of when and various assaults upon the “practice” of many traditions which are or seem to be of the pagan origin …the scriptures are revealed not to natural minded man seeking to find reasons to deny the authority of the Creator and His reality but when they bring their rants against the Lord due to this “opportunity ” to free themselves from the necessity to submit to he Lord in all things they become open to the presentation of the Gospel…even in their error as I see it they MAY then have the Word of God presented

    The unbeliever and natural man will always try to justify and make little of the truths if the Gospel….attacking Christian efforts to have a public expression of our faith is just one ….undermining the depth of the inward reason for our celebrating the birth of our Lord by way of trying to deny…shut down…and mock the true reason we rejoice not just during seasons but all days is only one feeble attempt by the principalities and powers of this world to shut the gospel from having attention drawn to the Truth.

    Singing the songs of the season as a random act of joy has been. True blessing as I have. Tendency to do publically….I have yet to find any who stop to hear such a surprising act offended ….music has a way to convey the message if it doesn’t obscure it.

    It’s true that even when a familiar melody is heard the lyric will be brought to mind and many have. Childhood exposure to the powerful message of the Gospel that echos in Their minds due to those melodies traditionally attached to the lyrics .

    As a believer and as a musician it was after I was born again that I recognized the powerful libretto of Handels Messiah which I sang in high school and how that incorruptible seed of Gods Word found in the scriptures had overcome the dark music of my youth

    The heart that hungers and thrists after righteousness and receives the word with meekness will hear and receive the engraphed word that is able to save our souls

    Music and the soothing trustworthy flow of traditional carols has a way of opening the the hearts to the lyrics founded upon three truth if the Word of God and who can deny how defenses of the mind are let down. To the messages of hope found as the song goes into the hearts of the hearers?

    It’s at the times of rejoicing we may find the most receptive hearts with our own rejoicing in Him

    Even at Halloween my family and I found a way to make use of people at our door saying “tonight we are honoring Jesus Christ …the only man who died ..was. Ruined and was raised again and STILL LIVES to save the lost

    Offering the Gospel message whenever and however there is an opening is what I see as the usefulness of any opportunity that comes about

    As one post above pointed out ..I believe we ought to consider and study the scriptures to give an answer rooted in the Word to to any who challenge what and how the Word prompts and functions in those who love Christ

    Learning what we do and why as we do some of the traditions surrounding g the celebrations of Christ’s birth and His resurrection will keep us prepared to give the truth if the real reasons for our doing or not participating in the season

    To avoid participating in the way we have traditionally kept the season was difficult but it was not just NOT having a tree or the other surrounding traditions that made it emotionally hard but in all of that effort our hearts were “hurting” …not just the fleshly abstinence but in terms of not having gotten the substantial heart of God for eiether doing so or going on with participating…so despite it was a desire to “witness” it really became evident to me that it was more of an effort to please the flesh by some kind of abstinence based upon not wanting to “misrepresent the Faith” but in truth the critics seemed more interested in some kind of outward witness of THEIR having learned the Truth” about the traditions which have developed around the Lord by people who desires to honor and appreciate Him than the various oppositions to the celebrating of Christ

    All in all we do enjoy the various elements that others criticize with such zeal and not for our flesh delight…but because over the lifetime and in the new birth walk I have submitted more and more each day to what is focused upon Christ and His word where we are encouraged to express our love for Him in everything we do despite the objections of those who THINK they “know” what we “should ” do ….wanting to be the Holy Spirit without conferring with “all scripture as “God Breathed ” and the believers source for doctrine…….which also reproved and corrects ..which is instruction in righteousness”

    Seeking to be teachers they are in need to examine themselves to learn the heart of God in the matter and what the scriptures would impress upon their hearts to guide them into all truth

    To have a tree or not to have a tree ….the heart of every believer be fully persuaded in all things by the scripture and the relationship with the Lord

    Col 2:16!

    And …..

    Let every thing that has breath praise Him!

    • Jeanne T. says:

      So well said, Lovey! Thank you!! That is beautiful, and I agree with you. Before we moved, we lived in a suburban area, and at Halloween I always made a point of handing out Bible tracts. We had tracts for the younger, little children, and then very relevant tracts for the teenagers. Even our Christmas tree is a witness to the Gospel as several ornaments provide the opportunity to draw one’s attention to why Christ came. We have a cross, a spike (“Christmas with a Point” ornament), a lantern (“I am the Light of the World”), the magi, the nativity, and old-fashioned paper ornaments with Scripture. The church we have been attending places a crown of thorns at the top of the tree instead of star. I always spend time choosing Christmas cards as well; this year our card includes the message that Jesus is coming again. One year our card had a picture of the manger with a crown of thorns in it instead of the baby Jesus.

      One of my favorite pieces of Christmas music is the ‘Ceremony of Carols’ by Benjamin Britten. The lyrics to the first stanza of ‘This Little Babe’ are:

      ‘This little Babe so few days old,
      Is come to rifle Satan’s fold;
      All hell doth at his presence quake,
      Thourgh he him self for cold do shake;
      For in this weak unarmed wise,
      The gates of hell he will surprise.’

      And this one, “Balulalow”, written in old English, but I love the line about bowing the knees of the heart; and that is the posture we are to take. The words are so rich:

      “O my deare hert, young Jesu sweit, Prepare thy creddil in my spreit, And I sall rock thee to my hert, And never mair from thee depart. But I sall praise thee evermoir With sanges sweit unto thy gloir; The knees of my hert sall I bow, And sing that richt Balulalow!”

      Merry Christmas to all of you. Thank you, Pastor Randles, for your insightful pieces.

  8. Lovey says:

    Sorry for the typos ….the capitalizations where there should not be trifles with the meaning of my sentences….my phone keyboard is small and my thumbs big! And as of right now my eyesite is challenged by some kind of irritation

    Still I pray my points will come through…despite the various and sometimes hilarious typos and auto correct interferences!

    Onward….and rejoice always in the Lord….be he thankful in everything ….🤗

  9. billrandles says:

    no problem Lovey we hear you!

  10. Rebecca says:

    I am a prison chaplain, every Christmas the prisoners sing carols in chapel. I will always remember a young offender who had spent his childhood years in a series of children’s homes say with sudden wonder as he sang Silent Night, ‘Are those really the words Miss, they’re beautiful.’ And so they are!

    • billrandles says:

      I was once asked what in my opinion is the most beautiful song ever written, without hesitation I answered “Silent Night”- its all in there, Jesus and the Glory of God….

  11. Jeanne T. says:

    Yes, Christmas should be sung! As a musician I love good music, and there is no other music in the world like music that celebrates the birth of Messiah. Our heritage is rich in this regard. The hymns in this piece are replete with Biblical doctrine.

    I love this beautiful song, lyrics adapted from the sixth century by Kristyn Getty, “O Savior of Our Fallen Race”. The lyrics are in the video:

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