A Spirit-Filled Christmas

Bible Book: Ephesians  5 : 18-20
Subject: Christmas; Carols at Christmas; Christmas and the Holy Spirit
Introduction

Ephesians 5:18-20

“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

Isaiah 9:6

“For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

I trust that as I allow the Spirit of God to control me this Christmas it will lead to a Christ-filled, Christ-centered Christmas. Ever since as early as the 4th century some Christian groups were celebrating Christmas on December 25th. The almanac referred to the day as the “birth of Christ.” Two words I’d like to introduce this service with is Advent and Noel. Advent itself means “arrival” or “an appearing or coming into place.” Christians often speaks of Christ’s “first advent” and “second advent;” that is, His first and second comings to earth. His first advent would be the Incarnation-Christmastime. The Advent celebration is both a commemoration of Christ’s first coming and an anticipation of His second coming. As Israel longed for their Messiah to come, so Christians long for their Savior to come again. Advent is seen as a time to prepare one’s heart for Christmas and for the eventual return of Christ (and the judgement He will bring to the world).

The carols of Christmas were written with such meaning and intending to call our attention to Christ, His work, worth, and worship. These Christmas carols are full of Bible truth set to music, much like Israel Psalms.

THE FIRST NOEL

“The First Noel the angel did say

Was to certain poor shepherds

In fields as they lay;

In fields as they lay, keeping their sheep,

On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,

Born is the King of Israel.”

What is the meaning of Noel? In French it means Merry Christmas. Webster in 1825 defined it as, “a shout of joy or Christmas song.” It can mean Christmas Season. In Latin the meaning is “birth.” Another root for “noel” from the French means “news.” In the Middle Ages, “Noel” came to refer to any song about the birth of Christ. Therefore, the word carries a dual meaning of a Christmas song and the Christmas celebration itself.

When we sing the song “The First Noel” we sing the song or we are wishing someone a joyous noel, we are following the example of the angels, announcing the good news that Jesus Christ was born, not just for Israel, but for all mankind, so we could receive forgiveness of sins through Him.

“Then let us all with one accord

Sing praises to our heavenly Lord;

That hath made heaven and earth of naught,

And with his blood mankind hath bought”

AWAY IN THE MANAGER

“Be near me Lord Jesus I ask you to stay

Close by me for ever, and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in your tender care,

And fit us for heaven, to live with you there.”

He fits us for Heaven by the truth of 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

HARK THE HEARLD ANGELS SING

“Hark! The herald angels sing,

Glory to the newborn King!

Peace on earth, and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled

Joyful, all ye nations, rise,

Join the triumph of the skies;

With angelic host proclaim,

Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Hark! The herald angels sing,

Glory to the newborn King!

Christ, by highest heav’n adored:

Christ, the everlasting Lord;

Late in time behold him come,

Offspring of the favored one.

Veil’d in flesh, the Godhead see;

Hail, the’incarnate Deity:

Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,

Jesus, our Emmanuel!

Hark! The herald angels sing,

Glory to the newborn King!

Hail! The heav’n born Prince of peace!

Hail! The Son of Righteousness!

Light and life to all he brings,

Risen with healing in his wings

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.

Hark! The herald angels sing,

Glory to the newborn King.”

O HOLY NIGHT

“O holy night!

The stars are brightly shining

It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees

Oh hear the angel voices

Oh night divine

Oh night when Christ was born

Oh night divine

Oh night divine

Truly he taught us to love one another

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!

Conclusion

Three decades ago a church member sat down and wrote the program for his church’s annual Christmas production. That exercise evolved into the lyrics of a song that has become a Christmas favorite, comparable with “White Christmas” and “Silent Night.”

No other spiritual Christmas song in recent memory has achieved the extraordinary popularity of this masterpiece.

In 1984, Mark Lowry was asking the question: “What did Mary know?” Writing his church’s Christmas program he considered the Christmas story in a new light. Did Mary actually realize the power, authority and majesty that she cradled in her arms on the first Christmas?

Mark says, “I started thinking of the questions I would have for her if I were to sit down and have coffee with Mary…you know, ‘What was it like raising God?’ ‘…What did you know?’ ‘…What didn’t you know?’”

Seven years later, an accomplished musician, Buddy Greene wrote the haunting melody that we love today. Greene reads Marks lyrics and mulled over the truth of the words for two weeks. Then, he sat down and in 30 minutes had put music to lyrics!

This song leads us to consider Mary’s role in a new light. Think of Mary: a young (probably 13-16 years old), vulnerable woman called into the most extraordinary human work in all of history: giving birth to God incarnate, Jesus Christ.

We are reminded that the baby to whom Mary gave birth would walk on water, heal the broken, calm the raging storm, raise the dead and ultimately, save us. Mary’s baby boy is the Lord of all creation, Heaven’s perfect lamb and, in fact, “the great I AM.”

Christmas is, at its core, the celebration of the incarnation. Jesus entered our earthly reality in order to save us, to make us new, to heal us, and to die for us as Heaven’s perfect Savior.