“The Praise Of The Heavenly Host”

December 26, 2016

Northern Flicker (photo by Doris High)

Our friend Doris High shares this photo of a northern flicker.

“The Praise Of The Heavenly Host”

Message summary: Last week we considered what is probably the most familiar Christmas passage from Luke 2:10-12. This week let us continue with a consideration of Luke 2:13-20. Today we will consider the praise of the heavenly host.

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“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 2:13,14).

In our Christmas Eve service Saturday evening I sat next to a family with young children and again as we gathered in a circle with candles I stood next to another young family. What a joy to hear the children singing the Christmas songs!

Violin What is your favorite Christmas hymn? Surely a variety of hymns would be nominated if such a poll were taken among Christians. Brooksyne, just being silly, asked her new Google Home assistant (a Christmas gift); “What is the most favorite Christmas carol?” Google got out of answering that one by responding, “I’m not qualified to answer that question.” In a sense your selection might depend on such factors as your age, geographic region, your denominational background or perhaps it was your mother’s favorite Christmas carol.

Any Top Ten Christmas Carols list would likely include songs such as “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World.” Each of these traditional classic hymns written hundreds of years ago has been sung for centuries by multiple generations in various cultures and different languages, all expressing faith in the Christ Child.

But what was the original Christmas song? There was an expression of praise by Mary while she carried Jesus in her womb which we often associate with Christ’s birth (Luke 1:46-55). Many have called this “Mary’s song” or “The Magnificat”.

Luke 2:14

However the first song heralding Christ’s birth is a brief snippet of angelic praise found in the daily text, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” This angelic host had specifically come down from heaven to present their offering of praise in the presence of the shepherds. After their brief concert of praise they immediately returned to heaven.

How different did heaven feel after this “multitude of the heavenly host” returned to heaven while the Son of God remained on earth! It was a unique historic moment for the angelic host who had only known Him seated on His throne in His rightful place in heaven. He who was always present with God in the Highest had now descended with the lowly people. A descriptive line from “Hope Has Hands”, a Christmas musical Brooksyne led a choir in several years ago expresses this so well, “The holy and lowly will finally embrace, for love has a heartbeat and grace has a face.” How grateful we are for the fully divine and fully human Person of Jesus who sacrificed His all for us.

Angelic praise This angelic praise indeed expresses the essence of the message of Christ’s birth. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” It was a great cause for praise and rejoicing. The angels knew it, but mankind did not grasp the full meaning of Christ’s incarnation at the time. Further understanding would come in time and be more fully realized at our Lord’s resurrection! Thankfully, in our own generation, many do embrace Christ’s incarnation 2000 years later. Our Lord’s coming surely brought glory to the Father and expressed God’s good will toward men.

It’s so obvious that this fallen and broken world needs peace! Wars and rumors of war, terrorism on many fronts abound. It seems the earth is filled with violence. Daily news reports killings. Conflict continues to rage from hearts to homes to communities and international relations. But the very heart of the Christmas message is one of God’s reconciliation with the human race which provides peace; peace God brings to the hearts of men and women, boys and girls. Grasping this truth also greatly increases peace among the human race.

Fundamentally the peace the angels referred to is the same as that of the apostle Paul who later wrote in Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Or as musically expressed by Charles Wesley, “God and sinners reconciled!”

As we sing our songs of praise and worship or listen to them via media this Christmas season let us thoughtfully rejoice in the full meaning of Christmas. It is easy to sing the Christmas carols or play them in the background without giving much thought to the words since many of us have sung them from memory for years. Instead, let us carefully consider the message of each hymn text. Perhaps you could highlight the text of a Christmas hymn/carol through January 5th for the twelve days of Christmas. As we do so it will keep us mindful of God’s peace and good will for our lives, not just at Christmas but during our entire brief pilgrimage here on earth.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we sing to you, “Glory to God In the Highest”! The Latin expression the angels echoed from the heavens, “Gloria in excelsis deo” is also the refrain from our hearts this Christmas season. Although more than 2,000 years have passed since that glorious announcement was hailed to the shepherds in the fields, we continue to sing its refrain in our celebration of Your wondrous birth. May we never cease to be in awe and wonder of Your coming to earth to become the Son of Man that we could become sons of God! Only by Your wondrous grace can we can claim to be Your heirs. Amen.

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Thank you

Stephen & Brooksyne

Some Scenes From Our Christmas Day

Christmas story to children 12/25/16
During our abbreviated Christmas Sunday service Pastor John and Faithe fell naturally into their “grandparent” roles as Faithe shared from the book, “A Christmas Bird.”

Sarah Beth playing with doll 12/25/16
After church we had a house full of company as 18 of us joined together for our Christmas dinner, fellowship, laughter, games, singing. The highlight of our day was just enjoying the young children as they observed our Christmas decorations – especially the candy canes hanging on the tree, and Sarah Beth was quite taken by Ester’s 22 year old porcelain doll from New England. Sarah wanted to dress the Christmas doll that was nearly as tall as she!

Ester reading 12/25/16
Continuing our tradition since Ester was a young child we read “The Little Christmas Lamb” by the Lucados.  Ester reads the story and I do the impersonation of voices – my favorite being Abagail, the spotted cow who was Joshua’s best friend! It’s such a good book for a child who might be a little different since Joshua was a crippled lamb and often got left out, but found out eventually “God does have a special place for little Joshua!”

Ester and Brooksyne Christmas reading 12/25/16
Story time for young and old alike!

Ncube family 12/25/16

The Ncube family joined us and had a friend visiting from Zimbabwe. Her name is “Redeemed” – how special is that! In addition it was Tho’s birthday which only added that much more fun to our day of celebration!

Jim and Dorothy Schmidt 12/25/16

Jim and Dorothy Schmidt just added icing to the cake, so to speak. Their warm personalities added to our conversation and Jim’s zany humor added to our incessant laughter! 

Jim with flour nose 12/25/16

We played a game that elevated suspense and laughter among our group. Jim ended up being the clown as he knocked down the piece of candy and had to fish it out of the flour with his mouth! If you want to have some fun try this game at your next gathering.

Lapp family departing 12/25/16
Time to load up and go back to the farm since the cows don’t let the farmer or his family take a break even on Christmas day!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“The Christmas Scale” Video  This short video powerfully sums up the best news in the world in just 8 notes on the piano scale. It is worth watching and will touch your heart.

“Joy To The World”  Video  Traditional choir

“Hark, The Herald Angels Sing”  Video  Chris Tomlin

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