Tag Archives: Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS

To each and everyone, a joyous celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The First Noel

The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay tending their sheep,
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east, beyond them far;
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

And by the light of that same star
Three Wise Men came from country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

This star drew nigh to the northwest,
Over Bethlehem it took its rest;
And there it did both stop and stay,
Right over the place where Jesus lay.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

Then did they know assuredly
Within that house the King did lie;
One entered it them for to see,
And found the Babe in poverty.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

Then entered in those Wise Men three,
Full reverently upon the knee,
And offered there, in His presence,
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

Between an ox stall and an ass,
This Child truly there He was;
For want of clothing they did Him lay
All in a manger, among the hay.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord;
That hath made Heaven and earth of naught,
And with His blood mankind hath bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

If we in our time shall do well,
We shall be free from death and hell;
For God hath prepared for us all
A resting place in general.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

Words & Music: Traditional English Carol

 


And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
Luke 2:8 – 15

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2:1 – 11


 

 

I am fascinated by the misconception people have about the Christmas story from carols. But it really isn’t surprising. People sing carols far more that they read Luke 2 or Matthew 2. When I started working on this carol, I hesitated on even doing it. But the more I looked at it, I realized that this beloved carol does not teach anything that is unscriptural, it simply takes some license in speculations of things we are not told. So, I have chosen to look at “The First Noel”

We hear it sung every year. We probably sing it every year. But does anyone really know what Noel means. We know it as the french word meaning Christmas. Now I have no question that this is indeed the contemporary word for Christmas, but what are its origins. One explanation is that it is derived for the Latin, “natalis” meaning birth. (This is where we get the English word Nativity, the Spanish word Navidad and the Italian word Natale.) Now this is the most commonly accepted answer, but it seems interesting that all these other languages maintained some appearance of the original, yet French did not.

A couple other explanation I found are that it is derived from the french word “nouvelles” meaning “news”. This would fit with the idea that the birth of Christ was Good News.

The final one says that is comes from ancient Gaulish. It is derived from the words “Noio” or “Neu” meaning “new” and “Helle” meaning “light”. In this case the Noel is the new light that came upon the world.

All this is fascinating, but I do not speak french and I am certainly not an etymologist. The simple answer is that today, it means Christmas whether it comes from the birth, the announcement or the new light that entered the world.

So the Christmas carol begins by telling us that it “Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay.” Yes the news of the birth of Christ, the light of the world, was first proclaimed to the shepherds. Simple shepherds who had done nothing to warrant this gift. But it is to them that it comes. Not the first of this creative license is found in the line, “On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.” Yes, it is true that we do not know if it was cold or if it was a winter night. But this paints a picture for us a shepherd set apart from everything else that is going on.

So the carol continues that the star appeared in the sky. The implication of the verse is that the Shepherds saw the star. Again, while there is nothing that tells us this in the Bible, there is no reason to think that they could not have seen the star. It also says the star shined both day and night, this one I think I am going to have to disagree with, but again it is an attempt to emphasize the brilliance of the star.

The star that beckoned to the wise men “To seek for a King.” Yes it does say three wise men, and most of us are familiar with this one. There were indeed three gifts, but it does not tell us how many wise men there were. So the wise men followed the star until it came to rest over Bethlehem. This is how they knew that they had found the place where the king was. The carol then says, “And found the Babe in poverty.” We don’t know the financial situation of the Holy family, but this is clearly a reference to the fact that he was born in a stable. This is why it later says, “Between an ox stall and an ass.” Of course the wise men did not find Jesus in the manger. Matthew 2:11 tells us that they came to the house.

It is here where they found the child, the young King, and they presented him gifts worthy of a King. The gifts of “gold and myrrh and frankincense.”

Now my intent here was not to ruin a beloved old traditional hymn, but to remind us that our final authority must always be the Bible. It is there that we must always check out facts. Many a well meaning person has been creative with the Bible accounts to the point where they have altered the message. I do not think this is the case here. So I invite you, if you love this carol, continue to sing it for in it we declare the greatest truth of all when we sing, “Then let us all with one accord, Sing praises to our heavenly Lord;
That hath made Heaven and earth of naught, And with His blood mankind hath bought.”

 

 

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There’s A Song In The Air

There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer
and a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire
while the beautiful sing,
for the manger of Bethlehem
cradles a King!

There’s a tumult of joy
o’er the wonderful birth,
for the virgin’s sweet boy
is the Lord of the earth.
Ay! the star rains its fire
while the beautiful sing,
for the manger of Bethlehem
cradles a King!

In the light of that star
lie the ages impearled;
and that song from afar
has swept over the world.
Every hearth is aflame,
and the beautiful sing
in the homes of the nations
that Jesus is King!

We rejoice in the light,
and we echo the song
that comes down through the night
from the heavenly throng.
Ay! we shout to the lovely
evangel they bring,
and we greet in his cradle
our Savior and King!

Words by Josiah G. Holland, 1872
Music by Karl P. Harrington, 1904

 


And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:8 – 14

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved
Joel 2:32, Acts 2:31


 

We have all most likely heard the expression, “music in the air.” It means that there is a sense of joy, excitement and anticipation that seems almost tangible. It is as if there is and electrical energy that is flowing through everything. It is this idea that Josiah Holland uses to launch his hymn, “There’s a song in the air!”

With this in mind Holland paints us a picture of the source of that song. He writes, “There’s a star in the sky! There’s a mother’s deep prayer and a baby’s low cry! . . . for the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!” Contrast this with many of the Christmas songs that we hear this time of year. We hear songs of love, caring, family and friendship. The world can sense the song in the air and feel the effects, but in the end they miss the source. The true source of the song in the air is the birth of the Christ, the King in the Manger.

Holland continues, “There’s a tumult of joy o’er the wonderful birth, for the virgin’s sweet boy is the Lord of the earth.” This child born so long ago, is the reason for the song. Just as the joyous song filled the air through the voices of the angels declaring “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14), so the song echoes through ages and down to us today. The Lord had come to earth.

This Christmas hymn then reminds us that the song which was began that first Christmas, this song that has echoed through the ages, has also reach around the world. The hymn declares, “and that song from afar has swept over the world.” The message was intended not for a select group but for all people as the angel said “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)

At Christmas, and all through the year, “There’s a song in the air” It is a song that can be sensed by all, but to those who truly listen to the song, to those who look for the real source, there is a joy beyond comprehension. For God has promised in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” For those who seek Christ, He is waiting. As Joel 2:32 tells us and Luke quotes in Acts 2:21, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So for those who know the Savior born that night, let us join together this Christmas season to “greet in his cradle our Savior and King!”

 


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Love Came Down At Christmas

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

Words by Christina Rossetti, 1885
Music by Traditional Irish Melody

 


For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:16 – 18

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:7 – 12

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45


 

If I were to ask you, “What do you love?” how would you answer the question. One person might say, “I love reading.” One person might say, “I love pizza.” Another might say, “I love the mountains.” And another might say, “I love my spouse.” It’s interesting how we bandy this four letter word around and it seems to have a slightly different meaning in each context. I mean, a person’s feeling about reading, pizza, the mountains and their spouse certainly aren’t the same, yet we use the same word.

So what does love mean? Contrary to what we often think of, love is not simply an emotion. Rather, I have heard it said, that love is a commitment. It goes beyond emotion. Emotions come and go, but love does not end. It is this true meaning of love that we find portrayed in the Christmas hymn, “Love Came Down at Christmas” by Christina Rossetti.

Rossetti writes, “Love was born at Christmas.” The birth of Jesus is Love, as we find in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” God had no obligation to send his son. He did it, because he was committed to His purpose, to save mankind. Despite our constant turning our backs on Him and choosing to follow our own direction, God still remains faithful to His commitment.

Yes Jesus is “Love incarnate, love divine.” Jesus is the commitment of God made flesh. A commitment to reach a world in need. So, “worship we our Jesus” for this truth, that He “ laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16)

This Love that has been given to us, now we spread to others. Rossetti writes, “Love shall be yours and love be mine, Love to God and to all men.” This reflects 1 John 4:7 which reads, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.”

So, what is love? “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) Yes, “Love came down at Christmas”, when Christ was born. When He came into this world “to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) God is faithful, so we, in response share His love with a world in need.

 

 

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The Real Message of Christmas

Can you believe that there is less than a week until Christmas, and I just began Christmas shopping yesterday.  It seem that each year Christmas comes faster and faster.  Of course we have our tree up, we have been to see two different light shows and our youngest has had her Sunday School Christmas program, but am I really ready for Christmas.

It is so easy this time of year to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle.  In the midst of all this business we need to take time to focus on God.  We need to remember the words of Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” In light of this, I decided to read through an advent devotional this year to help me remember the true message of Christmas.

As I consider the real message of Christmas, I am reminded of A Charlie Brown Christmas when Charlie ask, “Isn’t there anyone, who knows what Christmas is all about?”  Linus then proceeds to quote Luke 2:8 – 14;

“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.”

Linus is, of course correct, this is what Christmas is all about.  But the more I have thought about it, I have realized that if we leave the message of Christmas at this, we may feel good, but the real message is lost.  “CHRIST IS BORN!”, the end.  If this is the end, then it is us Paul is speaking about in 1 Corinthians 15:19 when He says, “And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”  You see, as miraculous as it is, that God Himself was born a baby that day, if that is all there is, then the message has no point.  There must be, and there is, more to the message of Christmas.  But what is this message.

When people meet me and I am wearing my normal jacket, one of the first things that people notice is that my left lapel is full of different pins.  These include boy scout pins, railroad pins and even my FFA Chapter Farmer pin.  But the next thing they notice is that there are only two pins on my right lapel.  Here you will find one pin that is golden star with a nativity scene placed in front of it.  I wear this year around to remind me and those I meet, that God became a man and was born .  The second pin is a small hilltop with three crosses.  A reminder to me and those I meet that Christ gave up his life on the Cross for each of us.

Jesus was born, flesh and blood like us, and He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.  This is the full message of Christmas.  Not simply that Christ was born, but that He was born to die on the Cross.  That He came into this world to take on the sins of the world.  That He dwelt among people to lead them to God.

The message is not simply that a baby was born, but that God provided a way for man to come before Him.  This true message of Christmas can be found in Philippians 2:6 – 11

“6 Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”

Without the cross, the birth has no point, but at the same time, without the birth, the cross has no meaning.  Christ birth does not provide salvation, and were He not born a human being, then his death would not have been a sufficient sacrifice.

So as we celebrate this Christmas with family and friends, as we enjoy the gifts and the Christmas dinner, letter us take time to remember the real message of Christmas, that he was born to pay the price for our sins.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted.”  John 3:16 – 17 (The Message)