It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
So we continued our family devotional time again tonight. We were six again with my honorary son present again and after an evening full of playful craziness among us we settled down after dinner and homework were done while chocolate cookies baked in the oven. We sat at the table together and prayed and then each of us spent time in the word. Neal and Jake were the only ones to wander away from the table for that. I think both of them continued in Job and Isaiah respectively. Trevor (HS) read several chapters in Proverbs and in the New Testament. My young ones worked from their devotional books again and I started my word study looking up verses on joy.
At lunchtime today I asked Neal what CHRISTmas carol he thought we should go over tonight. He actually threw me when he said "O Holy Night." It's not a song that I really know well, so possibly in arrogance, I guess I didn't expect it to be on the top of his list either. I guess I would have been less surprised if he'd said something like "Little Drummer Boy," since he's a drummer, but he said O Holy Night, so I pulled up the lyrics and went looking for a version of the song to play for the kids tonight.
When I have sung this song before it's been with a lot of "lala la's" You know what I mean, right? "O Holy Night, the stars I brightly shining, it is the night of the dear Savior's birth... la la la la la... Fall on your knees, o hear the angels voices..."
So I found a wonderful version of the song today at work by Chris Tomlin, but when we were home with the kids I couldn't find it on Napster. We had to settle for Martina McBride, and although her voice is awesome, she only repeats the 1st verse twice, she doesn't sing any other verse of the song. So I ended up singing the 2nd verse to the kids myself. It wasn't nearly as pleasant to the ears, but the words were just as beautiful.
As I read the lyrics today, where normally I would be singing my "lala la's" I was so moved by the words. Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. These words really touched my heart, thinking about the longing the world had for its Savior. All those years since the fall of man, the world waited to be redeemed. Man, not even knowing, was pining away for the love of God. It was not until that moment, when Christ finally came that the soul, the soul of all mankind realized it's worth, it's preciousness to the Father. It takes me back to the days before my own salvation when I did not know the true love of the Father, so many people still, not knowing of God's love for them, and it makes my heart ache.
To explain the next line to the kids, A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. I talked about the feeling of being lost in the dark. I asked my children to imagine how they would feel if they were lost in a completely dark maze and could not find the door to exit. My wonderful daughter assured me she would be brave knowing God was with her, but I asked her to think about how she would feel practically. Ethan had all the right words, scared, worried, lonely and lost. Tired too, I imagine, wandering in the dark not knowing where to find their freedom. Then I asked them, if suddenly someone flipped on a flashlight, then what? We talked about how if they would just go to the source of that light, then it would lead them to the freedom they were looking for. If only we will draw to the Light, then we can find freedom, direction and hope.
That's what it was like, I am sure for the people of God. They knew the scriptures, had heard the promises and were waiting for the Messiah to come. Pining away. Those shepherds that night on the hill, I'm sure their eyes were drawn to star in the sky, perhaps even in wonder, but what must their reaction have been when suddenly the angel appeared.
I asked Victoria to recite her line that she has in tomorrow's CHRISTmas musical at church, "That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were afraid." (Luke 2:8-9)
Common, hardworking men, doing their jobs, tending their responsibilities and suddenly, the message came, their salvation was at hand. What an amazing moment that must have been. How amazing that they are the ones the Father first declared the Son's coming to. Surely their souls felt their worth. The Messiah had come for them.
Oh how that message needs to be shared today. The Messiah has come, for so many who are just working hard, tending their responsibilities. I so desperately want my children to grasp this understanding. I so want them to look beyond the presents and the tree, past Santa and the crazy push of materialism everywhere we look. The message of CHRISTmas, the true message is a humble truth of God's love for us, and His deep desire that we know Him, know His love, and the sacrifice He was willing to make in sending His Son so we could come to know Him.
The second verse of the song is the truth of CHRISTmas.
His law is love And His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break For the slave is our brother;
And in His name All oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy In grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us Praise His holy name.
The kids and I talked about the truths here too... His law is love... Every day people question God's love, they talk about war and sickness and then point fingers and blame God, but the truth is, God's heart aches at these things, and aches for those who suffer through them without knowing His love for them. We talked about the "Greatest Commandment"
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Matthew 22:37-39. All the other do's and don'ts that so many people define the bible and religion by are all wrapped up and accomplished in loving God and loving one another.
And His gospel is peace. We talked about how peace is found in the gospel, the good news, the words of truth the angels proclaimed that night, the Messiah came because "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16) Jesus came at the Father's bidding to give us eternal life. And that in this "good news" peace is also made between us and the Father.
I am so glad that Neal chose this song this morning, I think it continues to decorate our heart beautifully for the CHRISTmas season, because although no angels may come to proclaim this great tiding in these dark days, each of us who knows Him and loves Him can. We have the power and opportunity to speak the words of truth so that the souls around us might "feel their worth." And when they have, may they fall on their knees in worship for the one who loves them beyond their comprehension.
The good news of the gospel is the greatest gift I hope to give to all who might listen this CHRISTmas season, not only in words, but in love.