“And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.””
I got up this morning thinking about the mixing of the secular and the sacred that are brought together in a night of expectation and joy. Both of them are thought of to one degree or another in a sudden appearance. For those who look to celebrations and fun of Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas there is the poem by Clement Clarke Moore, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and the stories of the expectant coming of a jolly man in a red and white suit bringing gifts to all.
“'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
“The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads. And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap.
“When out on the roof there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.
“The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the lustre of midday to objects below, when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.
“With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
““Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
“As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky so up to the house-top the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
“And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
“He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
“His eyes--how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
“The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
“He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself. A wink of his eye and a twist of his head soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
“He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk. And laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
“He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”“
This story properly told is filled with excitement and expectation. It paints a picture of a great event and proclaims a message of happiness to all. Yet eighteen hundred years earlier there was a greater delivery made, one that intended more than seasonal happiness and good wishes, but promised real joy and enduring peace to all. Luke records this for us in the following way:
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
““Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
“When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.” (Luke 2:7–20, NASB95)
Our kids love Christmas and what comes with it. It is my hope that we would always treasure the greater gift given to us—the gift of a Savior born and laid in a manger yet risen again to be the Lord of lords and the King of kings. There is so much more to Christmas than just a holiday. It truly represents the remembrance of a holy day when the angels proclaimed the birth of our “Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Truly we can proclaim with them, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (12/24)
I speak to you from the depths of eternity. Before the world was formed, I AM! You hear Me in the depths of your being, where I have taken up residence. I am Christ in you, the hope of Glory. I, your Lord and Savior, am alive within you. Learn to tune in to My living Presence by seeking Me in silence.
As you celebrate the wonder of My birth in Bethlehem, celebrate also your rebirth into eternal life. This everlasting gift was the sole purpose of My entering your sin-stained world. Receive My gift with awe and humility. Take time to explore the vast dimensions of My Love. Allow thankfulness to flow freely from your heart in response to My glorious gift. Let My Peace rule in your heart, and be thankful.
“Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Psalm 90:2, NASB95)
“to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27, NASB95)
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15, NASB95)