Daily Archives: December 4, 2011

Advent Week 2: Christmas is Love

What does great, true love look like?

The greatest expression of true love is sacrifice and surrender – not for a friend, but rather, for an enemy. Lay your life down for a friend? Sure. Lay your life down for your enemy? I’d like to say yes, but probably no.

Other than Easter, this season reminds me of this more than any other time of the year. And why shouldn’t it? People set aside their agendas for thirty days to decorate their homes, purchase-receive-and give gifts, attend church, give time or money to a charity they care for, and travel miles to be with loved ones. Why? Some, probably because they feel that they have to out of necessity. Others, love.

So why shouldn’t Christmas be about love with all the giving and cheer that infuses the air this time of year. Seems like a given, don’t you think?

Yet, despite of all of the action this season, the ultimate example of love is the love of God. His love is far deeper that the trite “love” that fills this time of year. His love was ultimately demonstrated in the sacrifice of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.

How can we love like that? Let’s follow Joseph’s example.

I attended services at Church of the Open Door this morning and the message revolved around Joseph’s choosing to follow God’s call and love Mary and the unborn child she carried in spite of himself and his culture. He sacrificed the what ifs and the either/ors to follow God’s will and love that Child as if He were his own.

The speaker at this morning’s service also spoke of another Joseph, hundreds of years before Jesus’ time. Take a glimpse at Genesis 37-45.

Joseph had many brothers, was his father’s favorite and was hated by his older brothers. They beat him and had thought about leaving him for dead, but chose then to sell him into slavery. He was sold again in Egypt and served in Potiphar’s house. Potiphar’s wife accused him of sleeping with her and Joseph was thrown in prison for it. He remained there until the cup-bearer remembered the dream-reader and Joseph was summoned to read Pharoh’s dream about the seven years of surplus and seven years of famine. Joseph was then placed in charge of everything and, in a wild turn of events, his brothers were the very ones who came to him for help during those seven years of famine. Did Joseph get his revenge and send them back, empty-handed?

He may have wanted to, but he didn’t. Read what he says:

Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God…
Genesis 45:5-8

In much the same way, Mary’s fiancé, Joseph didn’t quietly divorce Mary as he had contemplated. Instead, he chose to love her and stick around to raise the son of God.

Have you experienced a love like that? Have you given love like that?

It’s humanly impossible.

Only God can give that you that type of love. Only God can love you that way through the love of others. And only God can love others that way through you.

Day 4: Carol Favorites

What are your Christmas carol favorites? I have many…probably due to the love I have for this time of year. I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite Christmas tunes this week.


Angels We Have Hear on High

The French carol “Les anges dans nos campagnes,” now known as “Angels We Have Heard on High,” is completely anonymous. It has always been printed with no known lyricist or composer. The beautiful carol tells the story of Christ’s birth, when the angel choir told the good news to nearby shepherds. The chorus, “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” reflects the chorus of the angel choir that long-ago Christmas night.

Many years ago shepherds in the hills of southern France had a Christmas Eve custom of calling to one another, singing “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” each from his own hillside. The traditional tune that the shepherds used may have been from a late Medieval Latin chorale. It became the magnificent chorus of “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

The carol seems to be of eighteenth-century origin, since it was known in England by 1816. At that time James Montgomery wrote his carol “Angels From the Realms of Glory”, originally basing it on the tune of “Les anges dans nos campagnes.” “Angels From the Realms of Glory” was sung to the French tune until Henry Tomas Smart wrote a new tune for it in 1967.

“Angels We Have Heard on High” was first published in France in 1855. The English translation came seven years later, in Henri Frederick’s Crown of Jesus Music. This 1862 translation differed from the form we use now. The version we use today was first printed in a 1916 American carol collection entitled Carols Old and Carols New.

Thinking back to what it may have been like 2000 years ago when those angels first appeared…Sheep scattered around, the shepherds settled in for another quiet night, probably swapping stories as they watched the flocks. Then, in a divine moment, God burst into the night. Angels appeared, singing songs and speaking of the Savior’s birth. And suddenly, the shepherds’ ordinary lives were transformed-becoming part of a story that’s lived for thousands of years.

Angels We Have Heard on High” reminds me of this amazing night. In the beautiful strains of its chorus, this carol helps me experience a taste of what that angel chorus might have sounded like as they proclaimed the “good news.”

Christ’s birth certainly was good news to those simple shepherds. The Savior changed their lives forever. And God still loves to speak to ordinary people and transform their lives into something extraordinary through his grace.

Remember that God still wants to announce the “good news” today, using people like you and me. Helping a family in need, sharing the gospel story with a prisoner, encouraging a friend who’s going through tough times-in these and countless other ways we can announce Jesus’ birth to the “shepherds” of our day.

Through our words and actions, we can show that Jesus still lives in the hearts of man. So in this Christmas season, and all through the coming year, let’s continue the angel song. Let’s tell the world all about Jesus, and how he’s changed our lives forever.