Christmas Carols Tell the Christmas Story

Today I participated in a Christmas party sponsored by Shelby County Christians United Against Drugs for people in the Drug Court Program. This party and other events provided by SCCUAD are done as an encouragement to people who are walking a new road to sobriety.

During the party we played a game based on Christmas carols and everyone was given copies of the carols to place in a booklet to take home. We sang some of the carols and then I was asked to share a devotional based on the carols. Here is what I shared today.

Christmas Carols Tell the Christmas Story
The Bible is a book written over hundreds of years by many different writers who were inspired by God to tell His story. The Bible begins with creation, tells about how sin entered the world, about the growing sinfulness of mankind, and then of God’s decision to call one man to begin a nation that would be His chosen nation. Chosen not because He loved them more, but chosen for a task, to make Him known to the nations. God established a covenant with this people but they broke the covenant many times. The old covenant included the sacrifice of animals as a means to seek God’s forgiveness of sin. In the first part of the Bible, what we call the Old Testament, prophets wrote that one day a Messiah would come who would establish a new covenant, one written on the hearts of people.

In the second part of the Bible, the New Testament, we learn about Jesus, the promised Messiah. People who study the Bible have made lists of the prophecies about the Messiah that were fulfilled when Jesus came. One of those prophecies was that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. The song “O Little Town of Bethlehem” is about the town where Jesus was born, fulfilling that prophecy.

Luke chapter 2 records the Christmas story, the story of the birth of Jesus. I encourage you to read Luke 2:1-20 aloud and never lose the wonder of the story found there. There are many Christmas songs, also called carols, that tell parts of the Christmas story as found in the Bible. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Bible tells us that he was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Thus the carol “Away in a Manger” reminds us that the King of Heaven was born in a barn and first laid in an animal feeding trough for a bed.

The night Jesus was born, shepherds were out tending sheep at night, keeping watch to protect them from predators. Shepherds were pretty low in society, but they were the ones God chose to send angels to announce Jesus’ birth. The words of “Angels We Have Heard on High” are what the shepherds told people they met that night. The chorus, “Gloria in excelcis, Deo” is Latin for “Glory to God in the highest.” The second verse is what people asked the shepherds – “Shepherds, why this jubilee?” meaning why are you so happy?  So in the third verse the shepherds respond and say, “Come to Bethlehem and see, Him whose birth the angels sing.”

The Bible says that God is spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Yet the Bible also teaches that God took on human form, what we call the incarnation, to come to earth, live among us, be the once for all sacrifice for sin, and then rise again to conquer death. This is why the angels were singing. God had come to earth and was born as a baby.

Various Christmas carols point to why Jesus came. The song “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” says “Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” Verse 4 of O Little Town of Bethlehem says: O holy child of Bethlehem! Descend to use, we pray; Cast out our sin, and enter in, Be born in us today! We hear the Christmas angels The great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord, Emmanuel. The song “O Come, All Ye Faithful” invites everyone to come and adore Jesus. The song recounts the angels singing and gives glory to God. Verse 3 is very important in what it says about Jesus: “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.”

The response of all who encountered Mary and Jesus and the baby, Jesus, was joy. The carol, “Joy to the World” reflects that earth must receive her King and that hearts must prepare room for Jesus.  Jesus does not force himself into our lives. We are so busy and think we are self-sufficient. But the reality is that we all need a Savior and the question in every generation is: Will you receive Him? Will you make room for Him. Make room not as just one more thing in a cluttered life, but will you cast out everything else for Jesus.

The shadow of the cross was on the manger. We forget that sometimes as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We must always remember that Jesus was born to die, to be the sacrifice for our sin, and proved that it was all true through the resurrection. Hundreds of people saw Him after the resurrection. At His ascension into heaven, Jesus promised He would come again and until then, we are His witnesses, we are to keep telling the story and invite people to believe in Him.

God’s design at creation was good but sin messed things up. We try many things to fix the brokenness – alcohol, drugs, overwork, shopping, etc. None of them fix the brokenness. So God came to earth as Jesus, lived a sinless life, was crucified for our sins, raised again on the third day. Those who trust Him as Savior and seek His forgiveness of sin can experience restoration and discover God’s plan for our relationships with Him which is good. If you have never personally invited the Holy Child of Bethlehem into your life, there would be no better way to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Make these words from the carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” your prayer to Jesus: “Cast out my sin and enter in, Be born in me today.”

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