I love Christmas, I really do! It’s my favorite holiday and my favorite time of year because the air is charged with a different kind of spirit and expectation that something’s coming. Even though I love Christmas and I’ve been listening to Christmas music since way before it was socially acceptable to do so (sorry to anyone who has ridden in my car in the last month), it still seems to sneak up on me, and then pass with more of a fizzle than a bang… so, in expectation of Christmas, and in an effort to get my mind right for the holidays, I am going to do a short devo every day leading up to Christmas built out of some of my favorite Christmas carols. I hope you’ll join me for some or all of these next 12 days of Christmas!
Hark! The Heralds Angels Sing
One thing I’ve never noticed about the title of this song is that it’s actually two parts. It tells you that the angels are singing, and it tells you what they say, but it does it in a Yoda-order. “Hark!” The herald angels sing. That’s not at all relevant to what I’m going to talk about, but I’ve never noticed that and felt like sharing. Anyways…
We don’t use the word “hark” anymore (I might make that a goal for this week, to use the word “hark” in normal conversation). Hark is like an old-fashioned way of saying “look!” Another outdated word with a similar meaning is “behold!” We are never told to behold things anymore. If someone ever walks into a room and shouts “Hark!” or “Behold!” they better have something pretty freaking interesting to show us. No one is saying “Behold! My sandwich is ready!” or “Hark! The mailman is here!” These are words that point to something significant.
“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. 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’” (Luke 2:9-11 ESV).
Here in the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth, the angels that this Christmas carol is based on are saying “Behold!” They are telling these shepherds that there is something really important and worth directing their attention to happening. They are saying “We’ve got some big news worth telling you about, so listen up!” This birth announcement is not like your friends on Facebook or Instagram that just posted another picture of their newborn (that looks like an alien but you don’t want to say anything). They are saying that the news we are bringing is good and exciting for all people. The news is not that a baby was born. The news is who the baby is, and who the baby is born for. Jesus is not just a man, He is is the God-man (John 1:14). Jesus is God in the form of man coming to be savior to those who believe in Him. This is a big deal. Have you ever seen a kid that is so excited about something that he is running around telling anyone in earshot their news? This is what the angels are doing, their God and King is doing something shocking and incredible, and they can’t help but go and let these shepherds know.
We have this really somber mental image for angels that we’ve adopted from movies and TV over the years. They are always standing away from the humans as if they’re trying not to get dirty. They don’t really smile much because they didn’t really want to be stuck as the messengers but they drew the short straw. They are always so serious (now I’m picturing the Joker with angel wings). Let’s throw out this picture of angels that Hollywood has stuck us with. Angels are perfect beings who get to dwell in the presence of God, and any glimpses of angels in heaven in the Bible show them constantly shouting songs of praise. The Bible depicts true worship as something that overflows from the heart. That means that angels are singing to God because they are so full of joy in Him that they can’t keep it to themselves. They are like the excited kid running around who can’t stop letting people know how awesome his dad is and what his dad is doing. That is what is happening in the Christmas story.
So let’s do it. Let’s behold the Christ who has come to earth to save us! Let’s behold that God would dwell among us so that we could dwell with Him eternally! Let’s look to Jesus, his person and work on the cross, and rejoice like the angels did (and are)! Hark! The herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King!
Pray: God thank you that Jesus coming is something worth being excited about. Thank you that we can behold the glory of our savior. Help me to live in that joy, and help me to bring that joy to those around me as I too share the good news of great joy for all people. Amen.