The Christmas carol “Angels We Have Heard on High” is not only a beautiful tune to sing and hum during this season of celebration, but it’s also a retelling of the shepherd’s story as it is told in the second chapter of Luke’s gospel.
“Angels we have heard on high; Sweetly singing o’er the plains; And the mountains in reply; Echoing their joyous strains.” You can hear the excitement in their voices, can’t you? “We just heard a choir of heavenly angels! I’ve never heard anything like that!! Was it just me or was the sound of their singing everywhere?!”
And what song was it that these heavenly beings were singing? “Gloria in excelsis deo” or in the more common tongue, “Glory to God in the highest!” The angels were praising God for his coming to men. The invisible God would become visible and would save His creation, and it was beginning now in a manger in Bethlehem.
“Shepherds why this jubilee?; Why your joyous strains prolong?; What the gladsome tidings be?; Which inspire your heavenly songs?” The shepherds have gone and checked out the angels’ words for themselves and are now overjoyed. They rush into town, with the songs of the angels on their lips, and the people of the town, understandably, are confused by their excitement and enthusiasm. “What has gotten into these guys? I’ve never seen them act this way before. And what’s this ‘good news’ they keep mentioning?”
“Come to Bethlehem and see; Christ whose birth the angels sing; Come adore on bended knee; Christ, the Lord, the newborn King” The shepherds explain to the confused townsfolk why they are so happy. They implore everyone they see to head towards Bethlehem to view the One of whom the angels sang. “This is the Savior! Stop whatever you are doing and go see Him now! You don’t want to miss this!!”
“See Him in a manger laid; Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth; Mary, Joseph, lend your aid; With us sing our Savior’s birth” The shepherds are careful to share all the details. “Don’t go looking at the palace for the King. He is in a manger. He’s not been born to royalty but to two regular people like you and me. They’ll tell you all about it when you get there.”
And don’t miss the importance of the last line here. Luke says that the shepherds “reported the message they were told…and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” Then he says that these same shepherds “returned, glorifying and praising God.”
The song regarding God’s plan to rescue men may have begun with the heavenly choir, but it did not stop there. The shepherds heard the refrain of “Glory to God in the highest!” and they picked it up. Then those with whom they shared an encounter heard the song, and just like the shepherds before them, they began to sing the song of “Glory to God in the highest!” And with each new re-telling the song grew louder and louder, as the news spread. And friends, you and I have the opportunity to repeat the same refrain this Christmas and grow the song even further. Like the shepherds before us, many of us have observed the glory of that newborn King. We have experienced His grand rescue plan for ourselves, and it has changed our lives. We know and understand that this is no ordinary night that we celebrate. This is the night 2.000 years ago when the angels’ first sang the song that’s now in every Christian’s heart: “Glory to God in the highest! And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” May we sing it anew this Christmas and share it with those who have not heard and understood it.
NEWS AND NOTES:
All month long make sure and check out Christmas Plugged – our synchronized outdoor Christmas light show. We’ve added even more lights than before as well as 2 brand new songs. Just swing by anytime between dusk and midnight and tune your radio to 90.1 FM to enjoy the show.
If you or your group has not yet signed up to help serve during one of our five open houses, and you would like the opportunity to meet some of the families in our local community, it’s not too late to join us. Just sign up in the connection center or see Jonathan for more details.
Don’t forget to join us Sunday, December 18th at 6:00pm for our annual Christmas Unplugged worship service. This is a candle-lit acoustic worship event that features many of your favorite Christmas carols. It’s the perfect time to invite a friend to come join you in unwinding and re-focusing on the true meaning of Christmas.
Also note that our annual Christmas Eve service will be at 5:00 on Dec. 24th, and we will have Morning Worship only on Christmas Morning, Dec. 25th.
May each of you have a wonderful Christmas full of worship and adoration!
In His Service,