I’ve always been fascinated with the Christmas Eve services that are included in Christmas movies and TV shows. We watch as families going out in the snow for a late-night service to commemorate the birth of the Christ Child. Our church doesn’t have that type of Christmas Eve service, but we do gather together for a time of worship on Christmas morning. Everyone comes dressed casually but overflowing with Christmas spirit, gathering for a brief service filled with carols and a children’s sermon that ends with the kids singing Happy Birthday to Jesus. I love being there, remembering with my church family the true reason we have to celebrate this time of year.
For most of us, the Christmas story is so familiar that we can quote parts of it by heart. Even the kids I teach in Sunday School know it well — having acted it out in Christmas pageants year after year. But take just a moment to really think about the story…
…about the young woman called to be the mother of Christ.
…about the man who would raise that child as his own.
…about the birth in humble surroundings.
…about the angels who proclaimed the Good News to shepherds.
…about those shepherds who hurried to seek out the newborn king and spread the Good News of his birth.
…about the travelers — wise men, we call them — who came so far to present their gifts.
…about the little tiny child who would grow up to save His people from their sins.
My favorite Christmas carol is It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. It’s not one we sing all that often, but I love the call it gives us to listen to the Good News of the angels of Christmas. So today, I offer you the words of Edmund Sears:
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heaven’s all gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.
Yet through the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!
For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.
May His peace fill our hearts this Christmas and always.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” — Isaiah 9:6