Friday December 4, 2020

For our Advent devotionals we are looking deeper at some of our favorite carols.

Today’s Scripture: John 2:8-12

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 radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Today’s Carol: The First Nowell

The first Nowell 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.

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Born is the King of Israel.

For all to see there was 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.

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Born is the King of Israel.

Then let us all with one accord, Sing praises to our heavenly Lord

Who hath made heav’n and earth of naught, And with His blood mankind hath bought.

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Born is the King of Israel.

Today’s Devotional

This carol is one of those songs that have helped define what we think the first Christmas (or Nowell, or Noel) was like. It has helped create in our collective minds the ambiance around the birth of Jesus. For example, in this carol’s first verse we sing about the shepherds asleep in their fields on a “cold winter’s night that was so deep”. Jesus was most likely born in the Spring or Summer. Shepherds tend to protect their sheep in cold weather rather than leave them out in the field.

Also, we know that the star which guided the wise men most likely appeared several years AFTER the birth of Jesus. Scripture tells us the wise men came to a house – not a manger – and visited a child – not a baby.

But we celebrate Christmas in December which means, in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s cold. So it makes since that we sing about the shepherds being in their fields on a cold winter’s night. It makes since, but does it matter. Should we change the lyrics

Short answer: No. But we should be aware of the culture of Christmas we have created.

The problem comes when or if we get attached to the accoutrements of the season instead of the reason for the season. We can get so caught up in the carols and cold winter nights and decorations and peppermint milkshakes and Hallmark Christmas movies that we soon loose sight of what is truly important.

Our carol today actually helps us realize that the stuff of Christmas has its place – but the meaning of Christmas is what is important. Take a look back at the last verse: “and with His blood mankind hath bought”. It’s ok to enjoy the atmosphere of Christmas. In fact, this year I think it’s really needed. But we need to sing all the way to the last verse because when the last verse is sung, we remember how the story ends. And that’s worth celebrating!

Today’s Prayer

God thank you that we can enjoy the culture around Christmas in ways that bring us joy and happiness. But help us to stay focused on the last verse as we sing praises to our heavenly Lord.


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