Summary: The central characters in the Christmas story almost instantly responded to the events surrounding the birth of Jesus with songs.
The Songs of Christmas
Sermon # 1
This morning we very deliberately began to sing the songs of Christmas. For many it doesn’t seem like the Christmas season until we start to hear Christmas songs. We all have our favorites, both secular and those carols we love to sing in church. In every store you enter you will hear songs like, “Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” It’s good in my opinion because music and Christmas go together. It has always been so, even from the very beginning.
The truth is that songs have been a part of the celebration of the birth of the Savior for a VERY long time. In fact the central characters in the Christmas story almost instantly responded to the events surrounding the birth of Jesus with songs. The great Bible teacher, G. Campbell Morgan, writes: “Luke, the artist, has gathered and collected, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, the stories which reveal the fact that when Jesus came into the world poetry expressed itself and music was reborn.”
So as we sing the old and new Christmas songs we can gain a sense of joining hands and lifting our voices with people who have sung them down through the centuries.
Therefore for the weeks leading up till Christmas I would like for us to take a closer look at the very first songs of Christmas…in the hope that as we do we will feel the excitement and wonder that those first Christmas singers felt as they watched the events unfold. So here is our schedule….Today we examine “Elizabeth’s Song”….next week - December 6th -“Mary’s Song”….. ”….on December 13th- we’ll study “Zachariah’s Song” and on the Sunday before Christmas (December 20th) we will complete our series with –“The Angels Song”.
The Angel makes his announcement of the forth-coming birth of the Messiah to Mary (1:26). During this announcement he also announces that Elizabeth is also pregnant (1:36-37). “Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.
(37) For with God nothing will be impossible."
Mary in her excitement wants to share that wonderful news with someone. The person to whom she chose to share it with was her cousin Elizabeth. Why she came to this decision we do not know. Perhaps the fact that both are to bear a child of miraculous conception.
Our story today concerns the personal relation-ship between these two women, between the elderly pregnant Elizabeth, and her young teenage cousin, Mary. Elizabeth at this point is in her sixth month of pregnancy, carrying her baby John, who is to be the forerunner of the Messiah. She meets her cousin Mary, who although she is still in every sense a virgin, is carrying Jesus, whose name means “Jehovah is salvation.” Elizabeth not only is a sympathetic listener, but through her words encouraged Mary with words of prophetic fulfillment.
In verse thirty nine we read, “Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, (40) and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. (41) And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (42) Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! (43) But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (44) For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. (45) Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord."
First, The Preparation of Elizabeth
Elizabeth had spent her whole lifetime preparing to be John the Baptist’s Mom. Or more accurately, Elizabeth spent her whole lifetime being prepared by God to be John the Baptist’s mother – and she didn’t even know it.
For years, she and Zechariah had prayed that the Lord would give them a child. And for just as many years, their prayer went unanswered. And perhaps, like many of us, once they could no longer see any natural way that their prayers could be answered, -- i.e., when they got too old to have kids – and at some point they probably gave up praying for that blessing.
Elizabeth experienced a lifetime of struggling over her barrenness. In a culture where the only real purpose in a woman’s life was bearing and rearing children, what good was a woman like Elizabeth? She must have wondered, “What’s wrong with me? Why is God punishing me?”