Summary: Hearing this very familiar Christmas story from a new perspective. What happens now after we’ve heard the angels sing?
THE SONGS OF CHRISTMAS: The Song of the Angels
Luke 2: 8-20
1. Christmas is certainly the season for concerts and musicals! Here is just a very small sample of Christmas events taking place right now in the Seattle area:
• The customary Nutcracker ballet.
• A Christmas Carol at the ACT Theatre. A merry tale of human redemption. One old scrooge’s quest for a heart he forgot he had. Join the Cratchits and Fezziwigs as they help Ebenezer search out the true spirit of Christmas.
• Argosy Holiday Christmas Ship Festival: Join in this Northwest tradition of lights, sights and sounds! Enjoy some of the area’s best choirs as they serenade people gathered around shore side bonfires.
• Holiday Lights Cruise: It’s a Family Christmas Cruise on The Steamer Virginia V. Make this year the year you begin an annual holiday tradition aboard the SS Virginia V. Slow down the pace of the season and enjoy the sights and sounds of the lighted and musical ships on Lake Washington. Seating is “Ferry-style” for this casual, fun-filled family event. Pre-order a boxed dinner ($20 each) or bring your own fare.
• Bob Rivers Show Twisted Christmas Party at Moore Theatre. The Fourth Annual Twisted Christmas Show has something for everyone this year. Caroline Rhea is one of the best-known personalities on TV and onstage. Paul Mecurio is one of the best hot, edgy, explosive comics you will ever see.
• Voices of Christmas. Celebrates the holidays with a musical, multicultural, performance. Voices proclaims that no matter where we live or what our cultural background is, people everywhere take comfort and joy in the same things - music, food, family, community, and the desire for peace.
2. Apart from these hugely publicized and professional performances – some of which will lighten your wallet by a good few bucks, there are some more homey and perhaps less glitzy performances such as the one we had here in Morton last Saturday evening at Plaza Jalisco as we stood in the rain and cold to light the Christmas tree, to listen to the bands and choir, to sing carols, to hear again the wonderful Christmas story while our young children acted out the parts of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, and the wise men, and to light our candles as signs of our commitment to carry the Good News of Christ into our community.
• Those who braved the weather were just ordinary folks – young and older people, some who came and left in their cars and others who walked, some who went away with a deepened awareness of God’s love and some who simply returned to life as usual.
3. The first Christmas concert also took place outdoors – at night, in a field on the outskirts of Bethlehem, and attended by just a bunch of nameless shepherds.
• While there had been no specific advance billing for this concert, providing information on exact date, time and location – there had been some preparatory hints 600-700 years earlier by the likes of the prophets Isaiah who had referred to a “virgin who shall conceive and bring forth a son who would be named Immanuel – meaning ‘God with us’” – and the prophet Micah who had specified that the origin of this one to be born would be “from ancient days”, that he would be “ruler in Israel” and that he would be born not in the Bethlehem in the land of Zebulon (up near the Sea of Galilee) but in “Bethlehem Ephratha” in the land of Judah, approximately 6 miles outside of Jerusalem.
• But what took place that night on the hills of Bethlehem was a surprise of galactic proportions – it was both a surprising Audience and a surprise to them, it was a surprising Message, and it received a Rave Review.
4. It’s a story we have heard over and over and over again every Christmas throughout the years. The moment we hear the opening words, “In that region there were shepherds in the field…” we know exactly what is coming next. Maybe we feel that there is nothing much more that can surprise us.
• Yes, it is a cute story
• Yes, it’s accompanied by a good dose of nostalgia as we long for a simpler, less complicated, and less stressful and troubled time
• But little chance that we are going to hear anything new – anything to surprise and amaze us, unless…
• Unless we hear this story not about nameless shepherds way back there and then, but as our own story – as God’s unique and specific word addressed personally to you and me right here and now.
5. So let’s ask the Holy Spirit to so apply this word to our hearts, to our own personal, present day circumstances, that we hear it again as if it was for the very first time.