Christmas songs keep getting stuck in my head this season, and I’m trying to drown out the gift-getting, Santa-soaked, self-centered ones with those that speak holy truths. Today’s unshakeable refrain is “Angels We Have Heard on High.” With each melodious pass through my thoughts, I am grasping for the hope and promise woven into the angels’ song. I arrive at the God-breathed record of holy proclamation:
“Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people, for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased!” Luke 2:10-14 (RSV)
I hear the angels lifting praises to God, rejoicing with each other and those lowly shepherds, who were caught completely by surprise during what began as an average third shift night of work. These were words of joy that underscored the gift of love, not fear, offered in their pronouncement.
My fellow sheep and I came together this week, humbled by our imperfections and His grace. In the minutes we carved out of the first day of the week, we spoke of returning blessings to God. At first glance, it seemed almost ridiculous that we, small and human, can bless our Father and creator. How can we possibly give Him anything He doesn’t already have? How can we, mere mortals-mamas and papas, sisters, brothers and friends-beings that don’t get it right so often– how can we provide a blessing to God?
God has never asked us to give Him anything we don’t have.
What do we have? Regardless of how many things we possess, or don’t possess, our guaranteed “always haves” are our actions, our speech and our thoughts. Those are the great equalizers of humankind. We all have them. They cannot be stolen and their ownership cannot be transferred. There are times we would like to leave those particular belongings by the roadside, especially when they get us into trouble, disappoint or wound. Still, they are what we have. They are what we can give.
“Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased…and the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” Luke 2:13,14 (RSV)
I am thinking about what I can give Him, in this season and every season. I am pondering the cry of angels’ speech. I am moved by shepherds’ sacrifice of words and heart, and my soul says:
Let me return the blessing of our mighty Father by glorifying and praising Him for all I have heard and seen!
What have I seen and heard of Jesus?
I have seen Him walk the wounded through their trials, and they have come out strong and whole in spirit.
I have seen Him transform lives of selfish destruction into lives of health and purpose.
I have seen Him cancel out the past and lift the downtrodden to a bright future.
I have seen Him grant the deepest desires of hearts and withhold others, all in the best interests of His plan and in the love of those that bear them.
I have seen Him lift up the weary and give them strength to step forward each day.
I have seen Him grant reflections of Himself in creativity, intellect and purpose.
I have seen His artistry carved out of ancient mountains, riven in canyons, flowing in waterfalls, delicate in dragonfly wings.
I have seen His might displayed in incredible lightning, thrown jagged across skies.
I have seen His strength in storms that rip and rains that flood.
I have seen His restraint in gentle breezes on clear summer days, in shores lapped in tide rhythm.
I have seen Him carry hearts in the depths of unspeakable loss.
I have seen Him laugh and love and comfort and encourage.
I have seen Him call men, women and children, from across varied economic, cultural and social divides, always covering open hearts with His grace.
I have seen His love for mankind, recorded by man—a love of forgiveness and hope, healing and promise.
What have YOU seen and heard of Jesus? Come alongside and return to Him a blessing today and every day.
Sing like the angels. Speak like the shepherds.
“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Luke 19:38-40 (RSV)
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:11-20 (NIV)