Chistmas Day 2014
The Wed evening services have been focusing on the Psalms of Advent. The first hymnal of Christ's church. God's people have always sung his word. God's word when it is put to music is like color to a television, it dresses it in glorious dress. So this morning we remember how the angels announced in song to the shepherds the news, "Glory to God…"
This verse is one of my favorite movements in Handel's Messiah, the angels sang. Let us consider this morning what we can learn from the angels singing. The angels sing at creation and the birth of Christ because when God becomes flesh he is making all things new again.
The question may not have ever crossed your mind but I ask you if you remember anytime in scripture when we are told the angels are rejoicing and praising God? When do the angels sing?
This Christmas day, the birht of Christ causes the angels to break out of heaven and sing. Perhaps we've never really thought about it because it seems so natural. Christmas morning the angels sing.
Our reading today is from John chapter 1. Here we are told that Christ is indeed eternal. He has no beginning. Christ is fully God. Jesus was always God and on Christmas we celebrate that God became flesh. This is why we say the Athanasian Creed today. Christmas is one of the three high days of celebration for the church. We have Pentecost where we celebrate the Holy Spirit. Easter we celebrate the Son. And today we celebrate the Father who sent his Son to be born. We say the Athanasian creed to confess what scripture says about the individual members of the Trinity, yet it also teaches the unity of the Trinity.
This is why John begins the Gospel the way he does. Stressing the existence of Christ before he became flesh and dwelt among us. But we can also look back at the beginning of creation for another reason, the angels sang. That is the first time the angels broke forth in song.
Now consider us. When do we sing?
Have you ever tried to sing something that wasn't true? "I love the IRS! Paying taxes is so fun. April 15 I feel so blessed!" No. We don't sing things we really don't believe. In fact the reason you laughed, hopefully it wasn't because I was off key, the reason you laughed is because this is a form of satire. It is comical when we hear someone sing something we know isn't true. It is incredibly difficult to sing something you don't believe. Could you sing Happy birthday to your enemy? Serenade a Muslim terrorist with "You are the wind beneath my wings…"
But look at how God's people have sang his word all throughout history. The book of Psalms for example. It was just natural that the longest book in the bible is a hymnal! Set to rhythm and chant form. God's people have sung his word because we believe it to be true! And we grumble when we have to sing too many verses of a hymn. Pastor I don't like all the chanting in the church service! What? Is it because you don't really believe it? It is our joy to sing! To rejoice! This is who we are.
According to Job 38:7, when God was creating the world the stars sang and the angels shouted for joy." God is answering Job's lament about his plight and God says, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the universe? When the stars sang and the angels shouted for joy." God was working, creating and everything was good. The angels sang. They saw it. They rejoiced because what God was doing.
Then sin came into the world. The angels no longer were just rejoicing, but now man knows the angel as one who stands with a flaming sword. Not to mention the one who led a rebellion in heaven. Now angels are feared as we heard Sunday when Gabriel came to Mary and she was afraid. And this is also why we can sing the slow psalms and hymns of sadness. We sing the truth and so it is right that we sing songs of lament over our sin. The songs that others sing when we hurt them or when we don’t help when we should. The songs of lament we sing like David in psalm 51, “Against you, you only have I sinned Oh God.” That’s not a joyful song but it is true and we should sing them. God’s people always have because our sin is true. Perhaps something has happened to you this year that causes you to sing songs of lament. Cry out to God, for he desires to hear your song.
The shepherds were afraid. Were the angels there to destroy them? No! The angels sang! For God has come to do something new. The new Adam formed from the flesh that was originally made from the dust of the earth. Yet this new Adam, Jesus Christ will not return to dust. His body will not decay but will defeat sin and death.
Imagine that Christmas day when Christ was born. The angels had been held back all those thousands of years waiting to be let loose to sing again. ANd boy do they let it out! Jesus is born. Rejoice shepherd. Rejoice Jews. Rejoice gentiles for your creator has come to make all things new!
Isaiah 43, See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
Ezekiel 36, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
St. Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:17, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
Romans 6 "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." This is why the angels sing, this is why we sing. Jesus Christ has come to take your dead, songless sinful life and give you a new voice. He puts a song in you, his song. His word. Your lips. With the angels. Jesus is today born and the heavens are let loose to rejoice because your creator has come to die on the cross for your sins. Your sins of reluctance to sing. To think you shouldn't sing because you're off key. Who cares! Sing!
Your Savior has come! And now that Christ has died and was raised from the dead he is eternally flesh and blood. Christ is seated in heaven among what? Rejoicing angels. Our loved ones who have died in the faith are joining in festal gathering around the Lamb who was slain and what does he say, John writes in Revelation ch. 21:5 - And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” There is also rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. Why? Because in repentance and faith we are made new.
Today we see how things are being made new. This new child, the Son of God is eternal, but he is doing something new. The cross is where he is running to. He will leave his manger and the arms of Mary where he sleeps, to die on the cross and rest in the tomb. There he is then on the third day raised and who is there…an angel. Perhaps we're a bit surprised that the angel isn't singing, but they knew this day would come. The singing at Christmas is the singing for Easter because when God becomes flesh there is no doubt God in the flesh will defeat death, it's no competition. Death cannot hold the creator.
"Sing to the Lord a new song." Is one of the most well known Psalms. A song of new creation. A new song. Not an old song. Not a reluctant song. You have been forgiven. Rescued from death. Today we remember that Savior was born for you. To create you new every time we gather here in his house. He takes your sins away and promises, "Your sins are forgiven." Christ has been born. He has died to reconcile us his enemies to him. He doesn't sing to us his enemies, but we who have been made his children through baptism now can rejoice with those who we have held grudges against. Forgive each other, for there is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. Sing together. For God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to himself not counting mens sins against them. Unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given.