I recently spent the weekend with one of my dearest friends and we were talking about how the real meaning of Christmas often gets lost in all the pageantry and busyness of the holiday season.
In our culture, one could easily go through the entire Christmas season without acknowledging that it’s really about celebrating the birth of Jesus as God’s gift to the world.
My sweet friend said something she likes to do during all the craziness of Christmas is reflect on the true meaning of the traditional Christmas songs. So instead of rushing through the next 24 hours mindlessly singing along to these songs we all know so well, let’s pause and reflect on what some of these beautiful old hymns truly mean …
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (1710)
Emmanuel … God with us; Jesus Christ; a prophecy of God’s protection.
The first verb Mark used to describe Jesus’ action is “came.” Jesus came to be with us. God’s first move is to be among us — Immanuel, God is with us. God comes to us long before we come to God. We may think we are in pursuit of God, but in reality we are only responding to a God who has been pursuing us.” James Bryan Smith
“The First Noel” (1833)
Noel … to be born; birth of God; a shout of joy; born on Christmas.
The invisible, intangible God has made himself visible and tangible in Christ.” Carlo Carretto
“Oh Holy Night” (1847)
Holy … sacred; transcendent and totally other; set apart from any created thing; cutoff from everything that is sinful and evil.
The holiness of God only secondarily refers to His moral purity, His righteousness of character. It primarily points to His infinite otherness. To say that God is holy is to say that He is transcendentally separate. Holiness is not one attribute among many. It is not like grace or power or knowledge or wrath. Everything about God is holy. Each attribute partakes of divine holiness.” Sam Storms
“Joy to the World” (1719)
Joy … a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope; a state of mind and orientation of the heart; it is something or someone that provides a source of happiness.
The joy that Jesus offers His disciples is His own joy, which flows from His intimate communion with the One who sent Him. It is a joy that does not separate happy days from sad days, successful moments from moments of failure, experiences of honor from experiences of dishonor … this joy is a divine gift that does not leave us during times of illness, poverty, oppression, or persecution.” Henri J.M. Nouwen
“Silent Night” (1818)
Silent … not making or accompanied by any sound; not expressed aloud; not speaking.
If you were God, the all-powerful creator of the universe, and you wanted to move toward people, you wanted to express your love to the world in a new way, how would you do it? … If you showed up in your power and control and might, you would scare people off. This is what happens at the giving of the Ten Commandments. The first two commandments are in the first person. “You shall have not other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image… for I, the Lord …” But starting with the third commandment, someone else is talking: “You should not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord…” The rabbis believed that this is because God was speaking directly to the people in the first two commands, but they couldn’t handle it. As it says in the text, “They trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” … Just God speaking is too much to bear. If you’re God and you want to express ultimate love to your creation, if you want to move toward them in a definitive way, you have a problem, because just showing up overwhelms people.” Rob Bell
Tonight , come and let us adore Him … Happy Birthday Jesus.