Christmas time is my absolute favorite time of the year for a myriad of reasons. I love the warmth of the fireplace, the memories around the Christmas tree, the overwhelming generosity that comes over people. All of it. I love the joy that accompanies this season and I love the memories that can be made, the holiday parties, the Christmas lights, the presents under the tree (come on you were thinking it too). And even though this is my favorite holiday, I am overwhelmed by the commerciality of it. The meaning of the season seems to have been pushed aside. And I have noticed, that even though non church goers know that the reason we celebrate Christmas is to recognize the birth of Jesus, they don’t know what exactly that means. It has lost the weight of meaning. It’s just some baby’s birthday.
This morning in church we sang the song “Oh Holy Night”, a Christmas classic, and known by most. As we were singing, I was really soaking in the lyrics and worshipping my King, the Lord of Lords, when I remembered.. People don’t actually feel the weight of these words anymore…
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
The song begins “O holy night the stars are brightly shining, It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.” This line reminds us that on Christmas eve, the long awaited Savior that was promised to us in the book of Isaiah has arrived. Isaiah 7:14 is the first promise in the Bible where God reveals to his people that our salvation would come through HIM. That HE would dwell among us, and that the Savior would be born of a virgin and will be called Immanuel (God with us). In the New Testament, all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) document the coming of the King in the same way. That the baby, Jesus (who is the Christ: Redeemer or Savior), was born of the virgin Mary in the humblest of ways: in a manger (or feeding trough), in a lowly stable.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
The song continues “Long lay the world in sin and error pining. ‘Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” The chaos and destruction of the world is no new concept. We have been our own worst enemies from the beginning of time, since the first fall of humanity documented in the book of Genesis. It became very clear to God that He needed to save us from ourselves. It was then that He planned to send a Savior to save His beloved creation, the Savior whom was fully God and fully man. When Jesus was born, all of creation was filled with hope. They knew that the trials of this world were coming to an end and that He was going to change the world. How amazing it must have been to experience such hope, to be alive when God dwelled among us, and what an amazing thing to witness the miracles that came upon his arrival.
His law is love and His gospel is peace
In His time on Earth, Jesus taught us many things, but as the song states one of the most important things He taught us was to love one another. Matthew 22:37-39 states “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (ESV). Wow. When I think about loving my neighbor as myself, it almost seems impossible. It is more than just “do unto others as you wish they would do unto you”, the Golden Rule. It is literally going above and beyond to love them. To show them the way you would show yourself that you love you. The song reminds us of this teaching in the second verse: “Truly He taught us to love one another. His law is love and His gospel is peace”.
All oppression shall cease
The second verse continues with “Chains He shall break, for the slave is our brother. And in His name, all oppression shall cease”. The coming of Christ broke the world from our bondage of sin. It amazes me that a meek little baby came to change the world, and change the world He did, He does. On Christmas we more than celebrate the time with our families, the first sight of snow, bright and shiny lights, and presents around the tree. We celebrate the coming of our salvation. If Christ had not been born, we would still be a broken, messy, hopeless people. But Jesus was born to bring us hope, to bring us freedom, to bring us a new life. He came as a baby to show us that we did not need to be afraid of Him, and also so that He could know us even more intimately that we know ourselves. He came as a man so that He could relate to us, so He could comfort us because He has been there, He knows exactly what we are going through. In His time on Earth with us, He taught us many things. He taught us how to combat this world and how to live according to His purpose. He taught us how to cast away sin and to live a life of greatness. He taught us to love Him and to love His people. And He taught us that we are ALL His people.
Christ is the Lord, O praise His Name forever
My favorite part of this song is the second chorus where we sing “Christ is the Lord, O praise His Name forever. His power and glory evermore proclaim!” Jesus Christ is not just the name of a sweet baby, born of the virgin Mary so very long ago. This is the name, and title of the Lord, our God in Heaven, who came as a man, lived a sinless life, and died the most terrible of deaths… for me, for you, for all of us. So that we can experience the glories of Heaven, and the blessings that God has planned for us.
So Oh Holy Night, so very long ago, when the stars shone bright to let us know that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, has come. Without Him we would have no reason for this season, for this holiday, a favorite for many, myself included. I am so grateful for this night, and for Jesus working in me and through me. I will celebrate His birth, just as much as I will celebrate His resurrection. Because without this, I would be a lost, and lonely, and broken, and hopeless soul. But with Him, I am made new, loved, cherished, and filled with hope. Christ is the Lord, Praise His name Forever.