“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 among those with whom he is pleased!’” Luke 2:13-14 (ESV)
Have you ever wondered what that angel song sounded like? Were the angels singing the sound of Beethoven’s Ninth with booming drums and crescendo surrounded by deep bass voices elevated by sopranos and altos? Or was it a concerto styled like Mozart or a lullaby from Brahms? Was it other worldly? Did it lift the souls or send chills down the spines of the shepherds who had to be told, “Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
Was the heavenly host composed of a choir? Was there a solo, were there instruments, did it sound like something we would know or appreciate? Maybe it was otherworldly. Perhaps it was relatable to the music of the day and would be something else entirely were it to happen today. Created in the image of God, mankind has a sense of aesthetic. We can tell when something is good or bad. I do not mean like a dog who likes the beef and carrot food, but not the chicken and rice food. I mean we know intrinsically that something, though it may not be to our personal taste, is beautiful and glorious. Music is one of those things.
The Heavenly Host sang. They related great joy and a miracle through a song in the heavens appreciable to the ears of mankind. We do not know the rhythm and meter. We do not know if there were soloists or instruments. We do not know how long it lasted. But we know the angels sang with great joy over the restoration of Immanuel. We had walked in the garden with the king then, after exile, could do it no more till then. God had come back and it was time to sing songs of joy across the heavens.
There is so much we do not know about the angels’ sound and song. But we know they celebrated and it was cause for joy and peace. We know they appeared first to shepherds, a class of people so low that their testimony was not even allowed in courts. We know those shepherds were told the joy was for all the people. We know too what they found — a baby in a manger wrapped in cloths. This was the king of kings, the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting Father on whose shoulders the government would rest.
Christmas can be a time of darkness for many. People get overwhelmed with burdens and worries and fears. They worry about the right gift or if they can give gifts at all. They worry about making ends meet, the tax bill due, the health of loved ones, and so many other worries that like the angels’ song we may not know all the details, but we know enough to know those burdens exist.
Commercialism and secularism make this a time of year of purchase and lights and elves on shelves when what it really is about is a baby who came to give great joy for all the people. We do not know how the angels sounded except we know they sounded filled with joy. So should we all be this Christmas season. For unto us a child is born who can take up your burdens and fill you with peace. Merry Christmas.
The Gospel of John 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
The Gospel of Luke 2:1-20
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
The Gospel of Matthew 1:18 – 2:12
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
and they shall call his name Immanuel
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.