I wish I had the memory my father had. He could remember just about every sermon he heard…quote the date, the speaker, the main points. I didn’t inherit that gift. I regret this especially, when it comes to things my late husband said, for he had such wisdom and insight from the Lord.
But there is one thing that stuck with me, and that was in a sermon he preached about Christmas. Today’s carol, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing* reminds me of what he shared. Why did the angels sing? Because they were seeing God for the first time, God incarnate in Jesus Christ. In heaven, they covered their eyes before God, but now, they were able to see him as mankind would see him for the next 33 years, “veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate deity!”
Seeing Christ veiled in flesh, the angels broke into song… into worship. The song conveys their reaction:
Hail th’incarnate Diety!
Hail the heav’n born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of righteousness!
Then the rest of the third verse tells what Jesus did to bring this outburst of praise:
Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.
Paul shares this in more detail in the 2nd chapter of Philippians:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
So the angels sang “glory to the newborn King.” Because they knew what Paul would continue to share to the church in Philippi:
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Are you singing with the angels this Christmas? I am!
*WORDS: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788, alt. George Whitefield, 1714-1770. MUSIC: Felix Mendelssohn, 1809-1847; arr. Willim H. Cummings, 1831-1915.