So, I'm not expert on tree-trimming and ornaments. I'm not even a regular at decorating trees at Christmas time. Nana and I have been married since 2008 and this is our first tree together. I admit, I am partially motivated by our eldest daughter, Jael, and her growing awareness of the Christmas season. I fondly recall being enthralled by the glow of our Christmas tree growing up. And while I want to help create beautiful memories for her sake as well as Noel, our second daughter, I'm not satisfied to merely create aesthetics. I'm out for content as well.
That's why I was so excited when my wife told me about Adornaments and Adore-Hymns which she heard about via Family Life. I was happy to discover EverThineHome and they will be featured prominently in this little series I'm attempting to write up for Advent/Christmas. The first up is one of my favorite Christmas Carols: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
Luke 2:8-12 gives us the Father's public service announcement, "It's a Boy, He's My Son, and He's your Savior". When the PSA is supplemented by a few key tidbits to help identify the best Stranger ever to visit the planet, Dr. Luke goes on to explain how,
"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, good will toward men.'"
I'm interested in the word "host" here because it reminds me of how older English translations of scripture have supplied us with, "The Lord God of Hosts", as a title for God. This interests me because the word "host/hosts" was closely associated with the word "horde/hordes" or even "army/armies". If this reading is correct, it gives me a very powerful image worth exploring on this day in particular.
What can we say about the Lord God Omnipotent Who sends His Only Begotten to earth--a world in 100% rebellion against Him--as a helpless baby? He sends these angels almost as an imperial escort--a fantastic display of His strength and glory--but they only appear to shepherds on the fringes of society in a forgotten outpost in the backwoods of Judea.
Consider the power of a single angel who alone brought judgement upon the enemies of God's people in 2nd Kings 19:35. Well, we have a whole army of such celestial beings. What should they say to vile sinners? What should they do to humans who have boldly shaken their fists collectively against their Maker? No acts of retribution, no show of force, no quelling of rebellion, no police action. Instead of these, singing.
Singing?!? Yes, singing,
"Peace on Earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!"
I have been greatly troubled this evening and transfixed at my twitter feed regarding this whole Eric Garner case. The protesters have moved me to tears, the apparent divide in some sectors of the church has left me dumbfounded, and watching the video footage all over again... Lord have mercy. I've started and stopped this post more times than I can count.
I am grateful to God for the assurance which comes from the biblical portrait of how the same almighty arm with which He executes justice and power is also celebrated for mercy and restraint. It couldn't be more different than the over-exertion of force and it's abusive mis-use which so many, including me, are lamenting today. I'm amazed at how God, when He could have pronounced war, declared peace. The Lord, before doing unto us what we deserved, prepared to do unto Himself what He could/should have done unto us. That's why I long to see the government on HIS shoulders. The peaceful use of power is for His glory and for our good.
God's way of thinking and our ways are as far apart as the deepest valley and the highest heaven (Isaiah 55:8-9). His ways are beyond searching out (Romans 11:33-34). We don't know all the answers to each problem we seek answers for. But by prayer we trust that in providence, God-honoring justice will be served on earth as it is in heaven. But one thing I am convinced of: the peace that men are seeking tonight in NYC and in Ferguson is ultimately rooted in the One born in Bethlehem of Whom the herald angels sang, "Glory to the Newborn King!" And that King is the Prince of Peace, Jesus of Nazareth.