Glory to God in the Highest

From the Prophet Isaiah:

You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.

Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 12

Christmas Day 2017. Hobby Lobby and Walmart offered their initial contribution to the holiday in early September this year with Santas and plastic mistletoe competing for shelf space with pumpkins, candy corn, and rifled school supplies. And since December 1st, we have attended Christmas concerts, Christmas parties, Christmas benefits, and and Christmas open houses. We have bought presents, wrapped packages, made playlists, and picked out the cutest outfit for the kids.

I did celebrate one Christmas without all the trappings–once. Christmas of 1992–I was a student for the year in Israel and stayed in Jerusalem for the break. I was staying with a family that month, but on Christmas Day, I was alone. The family had a baby on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem and were all at the hospital visiting.

So, I walked the streets of Jerusalem checking out the Christmas scene–only to find there was none. One working string of lights lit one side of the YMCA tower and a ratty tinsel Santa hung in a shop in the Old City. That was it. No music, no presents, no parties, and no endless loop of “Baby, it’s cold outside.”

The store were all open, people were going about their days as if nothing had happened. None of them were rushing home to wrap presents, or to attend a performance of Handel’s Messiah or decide which of the Gospels to read the nativity story from. To them, the Baby born two millennia before in Bethlehem was as unremarkable as the baby born the night before.

And yet, “Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!” They missed it.

At least most of them did. Outside of Bethlehem in the rough Judean Wilderness was a group of rough men and their sheep. Maybe they lay under the stars thinking that King David had once been a humble shepherd on those same hills. Maybe they were thinking of the next Passover when this year’s lambs would be sacrificed for the families who flocked to Jerusalem.

And then there was the angel:

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2.10-12

“Fear not!” Fear not? How was the possible? Good News? Joy for all people? The Messiah? could it be? And then, a choir of angels. Lots of them, doing what angels were created to do–magnify God. “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace among those with whom He is well pleased.”

The King had come and His messengers sang the news. And the Shepherds? They ran to confirm the word of the angel. They too became emissaries of the newborn King

And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. Luke2.17

They. Made. Known. I’ll bet they did! For the rest of their lives.

On this Christmas, Jesus, like the Shepherds, may I run to see you and then run to tell others. Glory to God in the highest!

A Glorious Christmas to you!!

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