Don’t Miss The Song
have all put out Christmas albums – that’s just scary.
It’s interesting that we love Christmas music so much because songs have been part of the Christmas story from the very beginning. On the night Jesus was born, there was music from the heavens as a host of angels sang about the good news of great joy that had come in Jesus. Actually, let’s be clear, the Bible does not say that angels sang this message. We say this in the carols we sing like hark the herald angels sing and angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o’er the plain. We like to think of the angels singing, but this is what it says, Luke 2:8-14.
OK, so there was no music, but there was a song, or a message, and while many people missed that message and didn’t hear that song – the shepherds didn’t miss it. Last week we talked about how too often in our celebration of Christmas we get so busy that we miss what Christmas is really all about and so this year we are telling people – Don’t miss it. This week we want to say, don’t miss the song. Don’t miss the message of the angels because what they had to say was good news and it still brings great joy and here’s why, the gift of love they sing about is for all people.
I am glad that Christmas music spans the musical world from Bing Crosby to Eminem because it shows us that the message of Christmas is for all people and to make sure that all people got to hear this message of God’s love, God chose some of the least likely people to first hear it. The message of Jesus’ birth was not given to the religious leaders or rulers of the day. It was not given to those who were socially acceptable and proper, it was given to the lowly and poor. It was give those everyone else looked down on, it was given to shepherds.
Working with sheep and living in the fields not only made shepherds physically dirty but ceremonially unclean. Shepherds were not able to worship in the Temple because their jobs made them unclean or unpresentable to God. Through the years shepherds got a bad reputation and were notorious for being liars and cheats. This was the least likely group of people for God to choose to give such a powerful message of hope and joy but by choosing them first, God is telling the world that his message – his gift of love and salvation in Jesus – was truly for all people.
Another song that tells us that God’s love is for all people is the song of Mary. The night the angel Gabriel told Mary that she had been chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah, Mary sang a song. OK, once again she probably didn’t sing, but the lyrics or the message of the song is powerful because what Mary says is that God had seen Mary as a humble lowly girl and yet still blessed her with His love. God’s love is for all people. Luke 1:46-55
Mary was an unlikely candidate to be the mother of the Messiah because she was just an ordinary working girl. She was not from a royal family, she was not from a wealthy family and there was nothing in her history or character to suggest that she should be given this honor. When God chose Mary, he was making a statement that the Messiah was coming to and for all people. When God choose a young girl who was poor, weak and vulnerable, God was sending the message that He is for all people. The song of Christmas that we can’t miss is that God has come for all people which means that God is here and He is for you and me.
But what do we mean when we say God is for us? The first thing it means is that God loves us. God loves all people. John 3:16 says, for God so loved the world, not just a few people, not just his chosen people, not just the nice and acceptable people but all people. The choice of Mary and the shepherds shows us that God is truly for all people and wants all people to know and experience his love. And, when we talk about the love God has for us, we need to understand that we aren’t talking about a casual impersonal love but a love that is lavish, unconditional and abundant. A personal love that is literally poured out upon us and into us.
In Romans 5:5 it says that God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. The love of God doesn’t drip into our lives, it is not rationed by God or given grudgingly or sparingly, it is an ongoing, eternal fountain of grace poured generously into us. The question is, do we believe that God loves us this much? Forget love, do we even think God likes us or wants to be near us and spend time with us?
I often think that God has to love me because that’s who God is but does God like me? Does God favor me or even enjoy my company and the truth is – God does. God favors, loves and takes delight in each and every one of us. Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, the mighty warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing.
This is one of my favorite passages because it tells us 3 important things.
God is with us.
God saves us.
God delights in us.
It also tells us once again that there is singing that takes place with God’s message of love – God rejoices over us with singing. The love of God is so much greater, deeper, higher and wider than we can fathom. Jesus told a story that gives us an example of just how ridiculous the love of God really is.
In the story there is a son who asks his father for his inheritance before his father has died. This would have been a slap in the face to the father but the father shows his love by giving his son the money. The son spends the entire amount on wild living and then at the lowest point in his life when he has nothing left, he decides to return to his father and beg his forgiveness and see if he can return home as a servant. We pick up the story in Luke 15:20
What the father does here is crazy. Dignified men did not run and they certainly didn’t run out to welcome home disgraced children. The son is not only physically dirty after working with pigs but he has made himself unclean but the father doesn’t care, he embraces and kisses his son. This is a picture of God’s love for us. We are the ones underserving and disgraced but God runs out to greet us. God pours out his love upon us and God welcomes us into his presence and forgives us and gives us life. This is the song of Christmas that is for all people. God loves all people and God’s love is powerful, forgiving, life giving and eternal.
God’s love for us also means that God shares the pain of all the people. God knows what we are going through in life and he shares our burdens and knows our sorrow. Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and he saves those who are crushed in spirit. God’s love moves Him to literally come and be near us. One of the songs we sing in this season is the simple carol, Away in a Manger and one of the verses says, be near me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay, close by me forever and love me I pray.
This is what God does through Jesus. He comes to be near us and to walk with us and even carry our burdens and pain. God really does understand the pain we go through. God knows all about disappointment and betrayal. God knows weakness and physical pain. God knows what it is like to be alone and lonely, hungry and hurting. Look at Hebrews 4:15-16
Jesus was tempted in every way that we are tempted and during his life he experienced every pain, sorrow and disappointment that we do which means that God really does share the pain of all the people. We can approach God with confidence because we know that God understands the fullness of our lives. God knows what we are going through today and he offers his love to help.
God’s love not only means that God shares the pain of all people it also means that the sacrifice of Jesus is for all the people. God offers salvation to all people. 1 Timothy 2:4 says God our Savior wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. The song of salvation heard by the shepherds was a song of salvation for all people and because God chose shepherds and simple people like Mary and Joseph, we know that God’s offer of salvation is for everyone. Jesus offers a relationship with God to the entire world and we can’t hold that song back – we need to share this good news of great joy through the song of our lives. While we need to sing it in the carols, maybe more importantly we need to share it through our words and actions and invitations.
We want to encourage you to invite someone to worship with us on Christmas Eve. Ask God to lay on your heart the name of someone who might need to hear God’s message of love and hope and peace. Pray for that person and then invite them to worship with us on Christmas Eve. Invite them sit with you and sing with you. This is one way we can make sure we don’t miss the song because the song was not just given to be heard it was given for us to sing.
Another way to make sure we don’t miss the song is to sing of God’s love in places where hope and help are needed. God chose to sing among the poor, the outcast and needy. Throughout his life, Jesus chose to walk with the poor, the outcast and the needy, so how can we sing this song of Christmas among the poor, the outcast and the needy in our community and world. God is with those who are marginalized and forgotten in this season, are we willing to join God in those places. Can we serve the poor and give to those in need? Can we visit those who are sick and shut-in? Those who have given up hope and are feeling isolated and alone? Can we encourage those who are grieving and invite those who feel left out in this season of family and friends?
I want to remind you that two great ways to help and serve are by supporting the Christmas Dinner with your time and donations and setting aside some money for our Christmas Offering which will go to help those who are perhaps most marginalized, victimized and forgotten in our world today, the over ½ million Rohingya people living in refugee camps in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Don’t miss the song in this season. Listening to the music of the holidays is great, but don’t miss the message that God’s love is for all people. God’s love is for you. God knows your pain. God offers you grace and mercy. God rejoices over you with singing and has come to be your Savior. This is the good news of great joy and it truly is for all the people.
Don’t Miss The Song
1. Read the Song of Mary in Luke 1:46-55 and the Song of the Angels in Luke 2:8-15.
• There is also the song of Zechariah in Luke 1:67-79. (Zechariah was Mary’s relative and the father of John the Baptist)
• What song would you want to sing for God?
• How would your song tell of God’s goodness and grace at work in your life?
2. God’s love is for all the people.
When you hear Christmas songs this week recite John 3:16 as a reminder of why we sing and why Jesus came.
• Read Zephaniah 3:16. How does God delight in you?
• Read the story of God as a loving father in Luke 15:11-32. Note all the ways the father shows his love to both his sons.
3. God shares the pain of all the people.
What pain or disappointment do you need to share with God? After you share this with God read Psalm 34:18.
4. God’s sacrifice in Jesus is for all the people.
Read 1 Timothy 2:4. Pray for those who need to hear God’s message of peace and love.
5. Who can you invite to worship on Christmas Eve? Invitation Post-cards are available in the lobby.
6. How can you share God’s love with all the people? Consider making a gift of your time or money to the Christmas Dinner or to this year’s Christmas Eve Offering. Take time to learn about the work of Partners among the Rohingya people at www.partners.ngo.