The Song of the Angels by Pastor Roger Rohde

The Song of the Angels

Luke 2:13-14

As we continue our reflection upon the songs of men and of angels found around Christ’s first coming, today we are taken to the plains of Bethlehem on that first Christmas night.  The shepherds were tending their sheep when suddenly a great multitude of heavenly host praised God and said: “Glory to

God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to men.”  It is this song which today is still heard in Christian churches throughout the world.  Here at St. Paul’s the hymns wed sing this morning reflect this song of the angels.  It is appropriate in the moments we are here to behold the treasure that is found in this song of the angels.

The song of the angels is a song that centers on praising the Lord.

There is an irony here, because so much of our Christmas centers on family gatherings, Christmas dinners, lights, and the giving and receiving of gifts.  Christmas can become so much of these things that Christ is not an active part, let alone the center of our Christmas celebration.

The song of the angels declares that Christmas is to focus on the Lord, giving Him all honor and praise.  Notice that this is not a prayer asking that we may glorify the Lord.  This is a message telling us that God is to be given all honor and glory in our lives.  He is to be at the center of our Christmas and the center of our lives, because that is rightfully His place.  He is the Creator of our lives and the source of all the wealth and blessings that surround us.  He is at the heart of our salvation; the reason heaven is our home.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one can come to the Father, but by Him (John 14:6).  The One Who comes in human flesh at Bethlehem is the One Who made us and now comes to save us.  He is at the heart of our being, our life, and our salvation.  We are to recognize this by offering Him our thanks and praise.

The song of the angels speaks of the reconciliation Christ brings between God and man.  Through the Christ born in the manger at Bethlehem peace would come to the earth.

This peace that would come is not the peace we often think of when we think of the efforts of the United Nations, or peace treaties being established between nations.  This peace is the peace which comes between God and man.

After man’s fall into sin, there was no longer the unity between God and man that existed after the six day creation.  Once man sinned he lost the image of God, his heart was filled with sinful desires, and he sought to hide from God.  Man knew he had violated God’s will, but he could not correct it.  No matter what works he sought to do or sacrifices he attempted to make, he could not bridge the gap that existed between God and man because of sin.

Into this world came God in the flesh, the baby Jesus born in Bethlehem.  This Child’s birth brought more than the normal excitement that comes with a baby, for this Child was not only human but divine.  He is the Word made flesh.

His coming was not to fulfill God’s initial command to be fruitful and replenish the earth.  His coming was to bring man the gift of eternal life.  Jesus came to pay the debt of our sins and to reestablish a harmonious relationship between God and man for eternity.  This is why Jesus is called, “The
Prince of Peace.”  God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ” (II Corinthians 5:19).  Paul told us in this morning’s Epistle Reading: “In Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”  As we receive the body and blood of Christ today, He says to us: “You are forgiven of all your sins.  Live in the peace and joy of My salvation.”  That is something for which we can sing praise to God and glorify Him with our lives.

The song of the angels also speaks to the fact that God wants what is best for us.  Jesus’ coming shows His goodwill to us.  Paul wrote in II Timothy 2:3, “God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  Jesus came to save all people.  He wishes all people to be with Him in heaven.  He gave His life for everyone, because He has the eternal interests of all people at heart.

God’s plan in sending Jesus to save us shows us His heart by which He is willing to do whatever it takes, even giving Himself, that we may spend eternity with Him.  It is as we behold this immeasurable love of God for us that we can face each day and every situation in the peace and joy of the Lord.  Most certainly not all things are to our liking, but Jesus says that all He gives us and lets us go through are for our eternal benefit.  He reminds us in Hebrews 12: “’My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lost heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and he punishes everyone He accepts as a son.’  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons…. Our human fathers discipline us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness”                     (Hebrews 12:5-7a, 10).

Peace is what Jesus came to give the world that first Christmas and it is His peace that He seeks to give us today through His Word and His Supper.  This peace is not the peace of having no problems, but resting in complete contentment even in the midst of unrest.  It is knowing that Jesus brought peace between God and men as He paid for the debt of our sins upon the cross, and that He does all things for the eternal wellbeing of His children.  May this Christmas peace be our New Year joy.  Praise the Lord!  Amen.

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