Summary: Christmas wonders at the birth of God the Savior.
Series: Songs of Christmas
Title: Angels Song
Text: Luke 2:8-20
Truth: Christmas wonders at the birth of God the Savior.
Aim: I want them to worship God for Christmas.
Life ?: How do we recover our wonder of Christmas?
The intriguing thing about contrasts is their similarities.
For example, Bill Crowder (RBC Ministries) illustrates this with the two top rock bands in the 1960’s, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Both bands were from England, and both bands were revolutionary in their music, but the similarities end there.
The Beatles (in their early years), under the careful tutelage of manager Brian Epstein, were clean-cut, dressed in suits, and fun, while the Stones were dark and brooding and looked more like a street gang than professional musicians. The Beatles were likeable enough to spawn a cartoon series; the Stones were edgy and presented themselves as being almost dangerous. The Beatles innocently sang, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” the Stones pushed the edges of propriety for that day with “Let’s Spend The Night Together.” As you’d expect their fan bases were radically different.
The Christmas story holds that kind of contrast. Can you think of two groups more different than the angels and the shepherds? The angels belong to another world, but the shepherds belong to the lowest social class in this world. The angels are bright and glorious with heavenly light, but the shepherds are dirty and carry the stench of sheep. The angels knew what it was like to exist in the presence of God, but the shepherds were excluded from the very temple they provided sheep for sacrifice. The angels explode onto the scene with loud, dynamic shouts of praise and worship, but the poor shepherds are stunned and frightened into silence.
Despite these Grand Canyon like differences, in the matter of Christmas, the angels and the shepherds display a surprising similarity. They both wonder at the birth of God the Savior! For centuries Christians have celebrated with awe and joy the birth of the Savior, but the first was this odd couple of angels and shepherds. They come from very different perspectives but they come to the same conclusion: the birth of God the Savior is wondrous.
What is wonder? We experience wonder when our expectations are exceeded. Wonder is being astonished at the fantastic, jolted by splendor. Wonder is the by-product of being in the presence of something that takes your breath away. There is an element of the will in wonder. A person can choose to not be impressed.
On our tenth anniversary this church did something wondrous for us. You made it possible for Carol and me to spend a week at Niagara Falls. (By the way, we did get to attend a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game and see Cal Ripkin play. It was great!) The next day after arriving we walked down to see Niagara Falls. It was a warm day. When we were at least two blocks away from the Falls, the temperature suddenly dropped several degrees. It was like walking into an A/C room. We couldn’t figure out what happened. Then we saw Niagara Falls.
As you know, on the American side there is the American Falls and the Bridal Falls. Approximately 150,000 gallons of water spill over the side every second. On the Canadian side there is the famous horseshoe fall, and a mere 600,000 gallons of water pours over its side every second. It is awe-inspiring.
Do you remember the first time you saw the Grand Canyon? It’s a mile deep and anywhere from 4 to 18 miles across. The astronauts can see it from space. You stand there in wonder. It exceeds your expectations. You are jolted by the splendor. You are astonished by the fantastic. It takes your breath away. You know what the angels and the shepherds experienced at the news of the birth of God the Savior. They wondered.
In the Christmas story the angels are busy delivering messages. The first angel we encounter is an archangel named Gabriel. Apparently, he is high ranking in the order of angels. His name means, “warrior of God.” They are the first to bring the critical message from heaven to earth of good news of a Savior to be born. Gabriel tells the old priest Zacharias that his childless wife Elizabeth will conceive and give birth to the forerunner of the Messiah. Six months later he appears to a young woman named Mary in the obscure village of Nazareth. He informs her she has been chosen for the role of giving birth to the promised Messiah. This was the desire of every Jewish woman. He also made a visit to her betrothed, Joseph, and assured him of Mary’s purity and the miracle she carried in her womb.