Sunday, December 6, 2015

Praise the God of Grace and Glory - Advent Day 8

Below is the Advent devotional I wrote for today for the His Kingdom Come community Advent project. This devotion is based on the song "Praise the God of Grace and Glory".

Worship Video: Praise the God of Grace and Glory by Judy Gresham 

Praise the God of grace and glory 
for the wonders of his love; 
angels tell of his great mercy 
in giving us his Son. 

Through the Holy Spirit's power, 
Christ our saviour comes to birth, 
bringing glory to the Father 
and hope to all the earth. 

Glory to God in the highest heaven, 
peace on earth, mercy for all! 
See how the gift of love is given: 
Christ the Lord is born for us. 

God is veiled in human weakness, 
born to bear our grief and sin. 
Grace and truth draw near to save us 
in Christ the humble King. 

Praise the God of restoration 
for the gift of Christ our King 
Join the angels' celebration, 
come, worship him and sing: 
Glory to God, glory to God 
Glory to God, glory to God. 

I love the story of Jesus’ birth told in Luke’s gospel, and in listening to today’s song, I felt a connection to the part of Luke’s story about the shepherds receiving the news that a Savior had been born. “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:8-14 

Back in the day of first century Israel, it was common to keep the sheep from multiple farms together in a field or a pen and share the responsibility of watching over them at night. Imagine it is your night to stand watch over the sheep. It’s probably a pretty mundane job with just the sounds of the sheep and the view of the night sky to occupy your time. Yet one must keep alert to protect the sheep from wolves or thieves. 

On this night, the Bible says, an angel appeared to them and “the glory of the Lord shone around them”. I imagine that God’s glory illuminated the night sky, such as it is described by John in Revelation 21:10-11, “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.” 

The sight of this angel and the glory of the Lord shining around them produced fear in the shepherds, but the angel reassures them: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (verse 10) That good news that will cause great joy for all people is the proclamation that Christ the Lord, our Savior has been born! At the proclamation of this good news a “great company of the heavenly hosts appeared with the angel, praising God and saying” 
 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
 and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 
Imagine the glorious sound the angels singing made! Charles Spurgeon called this song the choir of angels sang “the first Christmas carol”. The good news was so glorious it caused the angels to overflow with joy and burst out in song and praise to God. This event, the birth of the Savior, the Incarnation of God coming to earth in human form, the Messiah now here to bring salvation; this event that will bring God’s peace – His Shalom – to men on earth; this event is God’s greatest act of love for mankind – the gift of His Son, who will eventually take our sins upon Himself. He is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) How fitting that at the birth of the Messiah, the Lamb of God, God chose to make His birth announcement to the Shepherds. They go on to visit the baby Jesus in the manger and then, they too, join the heavenly host, sharing the good news of the Messiah’s arrival!

My Advent Rolodex art card for today:

My Advent Rolodex art cards for the first week of Advent;

A devotional and Advent playlist for week 2 is on our church website today.

30 Day Blogging Challenge day 20.