Christmas Day Carols and Meditations on the words of prophecy and John 1:14
O Come All Ye Faithful
Adore Him is the repeated refrain. We come this Christmas adoring the Christ child. To adore this child is to place all your loving affection on Him. Cherish Him as precious. Fall on your knees before the Christ child and pour out your loving affection on Him. He is precious and dear to us. The Holy Spirit supplies this holy devotion and focused love; the Spirit who continually spotlights Jesus for us to trust and believe.
Genesis 3:14–15 (ESV)
14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Isaiah 7:10–14 (ESV)
10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11 “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” 13 And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Savior of the Nations Come
Lest we ever forget it, Jesus’ birth is God’s answer to the curse of sin. Adam and Eve’s sin brought death into the world and became the pattern for all our sin afterward. But from the very introduction of sin into the world, God already had promised a Savior. Genesis 3:15 tells of One who would defeat the power of the serpent, the devil, who had deceived Adam and Eve into sinning. Many centuries later, Isaiah told how this Savior of the Nations would come—by a miraculous birth from a Virgin. God took flesh and human form in baby Jesus.
Christmas is the marvel of Such a birth. The Lord chose such a birth. Strange: God Almighty chose a manger, a feedbox for His Son’s crib. Strange: He chose a lowly maiden and not a high-born queen for His mother. Strange: the world disowned Him, but God enthroned Him in heaven. Wondrous birth! Wondrous child!
Isaiah 11:1–2 (ESV)
1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Jeremiah 23:5–6 (ESV)
5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
To show God’s love aright…Humanity needed to rightly see God’s love. Sin so badly distorts our spiritual eyesight, that no one has 20/20, or even 20/100 vision. We’re spiritually blind. So God needed to show love His way. Love bearing unfathomable rejection and pain. Love flowering even in the darkness of sin’s winter, and when hope seemed long past. Jesus showed God’s love aright. He clears our vision and opens our eyes to the great magnificence of God’s love for sinners.
Micah 5:2–5 (ESV)
2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. 3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. 4 And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. 5 And he shall be their peace.
Genesis 49:9–10 (ESV)
9 Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? 10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
O Little Town of Bethlehem
The hopes and fears of all the years, Are met in thee tonight. What a marvelous collision, for long held hopes and fears to meet in the birth of Jesus! The fear of death—ever-present. The fear of life, and all its uncertainties. The fear of guilt before a holy and righteous God. The hope of a future beyond death. The hope of peace in the face of the unknown. The hope of innocence and favor shining from God’s face. The marvelous collision of these hopes and fears is resolved in Jesus, born in little Bethlehem.
Luke 2:1–5 (ESV)
1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
Isaiah 1:2–3 (ESV)
2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”
Once in royal David’s city
With the poor, and mean, and lowly—Once again, Jesus did not choose the high born or elites for His company, but born among the beasts and shepherds, He was born for all mankind. You are welcome at His manger.
Luke 2:6–7 (ESV)
6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Isaiah 9:6–7 (ESV)
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Away in a manger
Bless all the dear children…Jesus blessed the little children when He said “to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14) and taught that to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must become like children (18:3-4). The children of the world are ever on His heart and mind! He did not skip childhood and come to earth as an adult but sanctified all of human life from the womb to His empty tomb.
Luke 2:8–9 (ESV)
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
The first Noel
Noel is the French word for Christmas, originally from the Latin: “birthday”. The First Noel is the First Christmas, where shepherds and angels gathered to celebrate the birthday of our newborn Lord. The poor shepherds were made rich beyond imagining with the news of the Savior’s birth.
Luke 2:10-13 (ESV)
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Angels we have heard on high
why this jubilee? A celebration! A joyful party! The Jubilee was a year of redemption from debts and the return of freedom in the land of Israel. Slaves were freed, property was returned, debts were cancelled. A marvelous preview of the Great Jubilee that Jesus brought in, as the Year of the Lord’s favor, when He came to earth. A real reason to celebrate with the angel’s song!
Luke 2:14–20 (ESV)
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Hark! the herald angels sing
A hymn packed with joyful and beautiful theology, the second verse has the line: Veiled in flesh the God-head see, Hail the incarnate Deity. God-head and Deity are lofty words for all that makes God who and what He is. His Divine Nature fully contained in the clothing of human flesh, in the incarnation of Jesus. True God, true man, One Holy Christ.
John 1:1–14 (ESV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 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.
What child is this?
Nails, spear shall pierce him through…these words of the second verse always stagger and impress on us the awful weight of what brought Jesus into the world. The cross was never far from the manger, and it never could be separated from it. His goal and destination always in focus, even from the gift of the Magi of myrrh, the burial spice that anointed Jesus’ dead body.
Our meditation this Christmas Day is John 1:14. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. You’ve probably heard it before: this is a major Christmas verse, with HUGE baggage packed into the one word: dwelt; better translated is tabernacled. It’s also the featured article in the Christmas issue of the Lutheran Witness. God dwelt or tabernacled among us. How? In the OT, the way God tabernacled with His people was…well…in the tabernacle! A tent that was assembled and disassembled and travelled all through the wilderness for 40 years of camping out on their delayed entrance into the Promised Land. For generations after, God dwelt with His people in this temporary structure, a finely built tent, with fine fabrics and poles, and an innermost sanctuary that only the High Priest was permitted to enter once a year.
This tabernacle, or tent, was where God’s cloud of glory hung over the Israelites. It was a visible sign of the heavenly reality, that God was with His people. But it was largely inaccessible. Sin kept the people out, and God’s holiness was hot to touch and out of reach. Only by rites and purifications and offerings, could the priests come near. And the innermost sanctuary, as I said, was entered but once a year, by only one man, and at the risk of his life if he was dishonorable.
But when John tells us that the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, He’s saying something truly profound. God’s tent is no longer the OT worship tent, but God resides with His people in the flesh and body of Jesus Christ. No longer inaccessible. No longer approachable only by the High Priest, but the Holy God in human flesh, touching the lepers, healing the sick, offering Himself in priestly sacrifice on the cross, once for all sins. And sin was the very curse that had originally parted us from God’s regular and continuing fellowship and presence. Sin is that wedge driven between the holy and good God, and rebels defying His good will. Sin is the constant antagonism between us and our fellow man, that begged for God’s redemption and healing. For God to come near and fix.
And in Jesus the way to the heavenly throne, pictured in that earthly tent, is made open to us. His blood sprinkled on us in the washing of baptism, joins us to His saving work, and brings us to our Father’s heavenly throne. The throne of grace, where our sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus, and we’re welcomed as forgiven children of God. This is our Christmas treasure and Christmas gift! God made flesh in Jesus, tabernacling, or residing among us in human flesh! Here we come and adore Him, here on bended knee we worship with shepherds and wise men, with Joseph and Mary, and all the saints and angels around the throne. We worship at the throne of grace where Jesus sits in human flesh, interceding for us. Hail, hail the Word made flesh, The babe, the Son of Mary! Amen!
Angels from the realms of glory (read this one before the hymn)
Come and worship is the refrain of this carol. Always we need that invitation—too often forgotten, too often ignored, to come and worship the newborn King. God made us to worship Him, not because God needs flattery but because we find the highest enjoyment and experience of love when we praise and worship that which is most beautiful, lovely, and excellent to us. And none is higher or more deserving of praise than Him. Our enjoyment is completed by coming and worshipping Him!
Now sing we, now rejoice!
Come from on high to me; I cannot rise to Thee. Christmas is all about God’s Son coming down to us, because we are unable to rise to God. We have no ladder to ascend to Him, but Christ is the bridge or stairway that leads from heaven to earth, and He descended to us to bring us up to Him and lift us from the gloom and death of sin to the life and fellowship of God!