“Christmas stands for the total invasion of the world of sin and darkness by the king of glory. This means that idols will fall, strongholds will be torn down, and the powers of this age will carry their power no longer. When we wish someone a Merry Christmas we are not just wishing them happiness…it is far more than that”
Song: The First Noel
Passage: Isaiah 9:2-7
For Unto Us a Child is Born: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f7jhk-IjDo
Download the Album Advent: https://joestout.bandcamp.com/album/advent
Hello everyone and Merry Christmas! Welcome to episode #6 of the Anno Domini Podcast. This is a podcast dedicated to the supremacy of Christ over all things including our days, weeks, and months.
Join me as we explore how Christ is revealed through the cyclical life of the church calendar year. We’ll discover how this calendar once structured culture and how it can again. We’ll also discuss practical ways to observe and celebrate these holy days in our quest to glorify God and live the good life in the midst of all good He has given us.
Welcome back again friends. I hope you have all had a restful day full of feasting, family, and fantastic merry making. I began the show by wishing everyone a very merry Christmas. Those are words that have been fought over for several years now. It can be considered a political statement in the clown world we now live in merely to wish someone a Merry Christmas. But I believe that as our Lord told us, the sons of the world are more shrewd than those of us in the light. They understand the meaning of Christmas better than we do at times and when they come to this understanding they mutter along with Gollum “we hates it”. Christmas stands for the total invasion of the world of sin and darkness by the king of glory. This means that idols will fall, strongholds will be torn down, and the powers of this age will carry their power no longer. When we wish someone a Merry Christmas we are not just wishing them happiness. In our vernacular Merry means happy or cheerful and so it should however a man I admire greatly by the name of George Grant shared with me something quite insightful regarding that word Merry. Quote from him…”The word “merry” is from an old Anglo-Saxon word which literally means “valiant,” “illustrious,” “great,” or “gallant.” Thus, to be merry is not merely to be mirthful, but to be mighty. In Shakespeare, we read of fiercely courageous soldiers who are called “merry men.” Strong winds are “merry gales.” Fine days are marked by “merry weather.” So, when we say “Merry Christmas,” we are really exhorting one another to take heart and to stand fast!
And so dear listener we note that to say Merry Christmas is nothing short than to wish the hearer to be consumed by the love of Christ and that all his or her idols, strongholds, and towers of trust will be torn down by the invasion of God into the world. The incarnation of God into flesh.
Christmas is now here. Advent is over and Christmastime has begun. Today is the first day of Christmas, there are twelve and at the end of these twelve days Christ will be revealed to the world through Epiphany at least as the church calendar reckons it. Just as a reminder to my listeners that there are no holy days that Christians are bound to… save the weekly Lord’s Day itself. All of this is extra goodies on top of the weekly rest Christ has given us. These days of feasting, celebration, and reflection are here to strengthen our walk with God not bind up burdens upon our backs. As we explore the practical, biblical, historical and musical, remember that God created a world fill with good things because he is the best kind of extravagant. He could have given us a world in which everything was efficient, practical, and economical. A world with bland porridge three meals a day and room temperature weather. Instead we live in a world filled with beef brisket, oratorios by Handel, freshly cut fir, hurricanes and tornadoes and yes even Christmas lights. Celebrate with me over the coming days the extravagant goodness of God.
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Biblical and Historical
Today we are going to combine the Biblical with the Historic. The reason for this is that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day all fall under 1 heading, that of The Nativity of Our Lord. During this time there are three celebrations or services that were normally held over this 24 hour period. There would be a short service on Christmas Eve Day. Then came the Christmas Midnight Service where parishioners gather at church at midnight to celebrate the arrival of Christ due to the traditionally held view that Christ was born at midnight. If true then a midnight service is an appropriate form of homage as it take real sacrifice to go to church at midnight. Imagine keeping the kids quiet during church at midnight! Then there would be a church service to go to on Christmas morning as well. Much of this is lost to us as most churches don’t even do a Christmas eve service let alone one at midnight or Christmas morning. It’s not even uncommon for churches to cancel the Lord’s Day worship service when Christmas came on a Sunday! That is really quite unbelievable. Crazy to think that not too long ago, most people would go or at least would have the option to go to church 3 times in just a 24 hour period. All this was for the benefit of the parishioners who would be actively having their minds transformed and renewed instead of conformed to the world.
As far as choosing a biblical passage from the lectionary, all these services mean there are 12 different passages to choose from. I won’t read them all but check out episode 2 for a download of the lectionary I am pulling from.
The passage I will discuss will be from Isaiah 9:2-7. Let’s read it together and remember that this is the very word of God.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
The natural state of man is darkness. Just as entropy is constantly breaking things down into chaos, so darkness is the natural state of everything without the intervention of or act of an outside force. In the beginning there was darkness until God spoke forth light. In this passage there is a group of people, those who inhabit planet earth. These people, us, without the intervention of the outside force called God will continue to walk in darkness…deep darkness in fact. But the promised messiah would send light. The people wouldn’t make it, choose it, or will it, it would be given to them. It would shine on them. And as the first chapter of the gospel of John tells us the darkness would never again overcome the light. The result of the light shining on the nations is increased joy and rejoicing because the yoke of oppression has now been broken. In fact, all the warfare consuming the world, ruling the world in fact would be broken with the birth of a child a son given to the world to save the world. This was no spiritual leader only though, He would command the governments of all these nations blessed by His coming. These nations would submit to Him or as our other lectionary passage from Psalm 2 tells us, He would break them with a rod of iron that breaks clay pots. Jesus is the stone on which you can fall and be broken or can fall on you and you will be crushed. This child would be given many wonderful names. He was a counselor, He was God incarnate, He and the Father were one, and though He is a conquering King, He is also the Price of Peace. Finally, when the child comes it would be the beginning of the end of the curse and the increase of government, his rule, His dominion, and therefore His peace would have no end as He was also Peace incarnate. This would be true for the kingdom of David, also known as Israel, who we now know, thanks to the New Testament, is anyone who has been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace.
I think it is helpful to notice something here. This is a pretty epic promise. It is an incredibly well known passage today because it is clear to us that Christ is the promised one. But in the time leading up to this event, nobody was paying attention. No one was watching Joseph’s house to see if he would produce any sons. No one is keeping tabs on Mary’s family to examine their progeny. Even in Bethlehem where this prophecy was said to take place was completely ignoring the fact that the coming Messiah could be on their doorstep. There was no sign of anything happening. Just like in the days of Noah, the were eating and drinking, and everything seemed swell. And then it started to rain. It was just like this in Bethlehem, very small and quiet just like God works, a still small voice. However, something big was about to happen in a small baby.
We have a well known hymn today. It really needs to introduction and I can’t tell you much about it’s history as no one knows who wrote it. The song is called The First Noel. Noel means Christmas or Christmas Season in French. The tune has been changed and slightly rearranged. You are welcome to listen to the whole album it comes from called “Advent” by searching your favorite streaming service or looking on YouTube. Let’s take a look at the words.
1. The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay, keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep:
- They looked up and saw a star,
Shining in the east, beyond them far:
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night:
3. And by the light of that same star,
Three Wise Men came from country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star whersoever it went:
- This star drew nigh to the north-west;
O’er Bethlehem it took its rest;
And there it did both stop and stay
Right over the place where Jesus lay:
5. Then entered in those Wise Men three,
Full reverently upon their knee,
And offered there in his presence,
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense:
- Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made heaven and earth of nought,
And with his blood mankind hath bought:
This song differs quite a bit from the others songs we’ve examined in that it mainly is meant as a story song that perhaps a traveling minstrel might sing. In the past history was preserved through song because it was easier to remember and more entertaining to hear. I would really like to say two things about this song. First that the King of Israel is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is not just a King of people group long ago, He is the King of Israel and Israel as we have already said are those who have been brought near by the blood of the King…King Jesus. Secondly because He created Heaven and Earth from the mere sound of His voice, we must sing praises in unity. The church militant is the church on earth right now. Every baptized man, woman, boy, and girl is called toward a unity under the banner of the King.
And with that I will close out the show and play a new version of the First Noel. I won’t be producing another podcast until Epiphany and so until then, have a very Merry 12 days of Christmas!