Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the Christmas Tree!”

I know... I know... The words actually say, “Glory to the Newborn King!” but within our culture, which one is often more celebrated? Even within Christian homes; what things do we typically tie to Christmas? Look, I know we all know the right answer, but I wanted the truthful answer. To many (myself included), the Christmas season is often a celebration of decorated trees, colorful lights, delicious cookies, and of course presents.

However, we need to be constantly reminded of the true focus of the Christmas season—the birth of Christ. In order to do that let’s take a quick look at these four Christmas traditions and how they relate to the famous carol “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” and more importantly to the Savior of the world.

PLEASED, AS MAN, WITH MEN TO DWELL, JESUS, OUR IMMANUEL!

The Christmas Tree is a staple in modern day Christmas celebration. Families gather around their living room to spend time decorating their freshly chopped down or purchased from Walmart Christmas tree with ornaments they have collected over the years. In my house, it truly was the “kickoff event” for the Christmas season. But how often do we really think about the tree itself?

The most common trees used for Christmas trees are spruce or fir. Each tree has thousands upon thousands of needles that were all uniquely made and hand placed on that specific tree by the creator of the universe. As you look around the world, you will notice the beauty and glory of all that God has created. However, all it takes is a few minutes of watching the local nightly news to notice that the world God created as perfect has also become a place full of evil and sin.

Seeing this brokenness, Jesus came into the world, the world that He had helped create (John 1:1-3), amongst the very trees that He had created. This Christmas, look at the tree, and first see the beauty of God’s creation. But then also remember the reality that Jesus entered into this world, humbling Himself, to dwell amongst the same creation He had once formed.

“Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings.”—Jesus refers to Himself as both “the light of the world” (John 8:12), and “the bread of life” (John 6:35). The most common denominator between both light and bread is that they are both necessary for life. Take away the sun and the earth will freeze over. Don’t eat any food for a month and your body will stop working. Both things must exist for life to exist and it is no different when it comes to Christ.

My family and I would always drive around to different neighborhoods around Christmas time to look at all the extravagant light decorations. You know what my family has never done though? We have never driven around in a neighborhood at night when there are no Christmas lights up just to stare at dark houses. Why not? Because we are attracted to light and beauty! Jesus is that beautiful light we must turn to.

When you are looking at all the marvelous Christmas light displays, remember the one man who claims to be “the light”, Jesus Christ, Immanuel. Another Christmas tradition in the Streitmater house is helping make (and of course eat) my mothers amazing Christmas cookies. Just like light, food is necessary to live, and though I do not recommend a Christmas cookie diet, they do fall under the category of food.

So this Christmas season, as you sit down to enjoy one or two or twenty Christmas cookies, work to remember who claims to be “the bread of life”; once again, Jesus Christ, Immanuel.

PEACE ON EARTH, AND MERCY MILD, GOD AND SINNERS RECONCILED

Every Christmas my mom gets on me because I never give her ideas for Christmas gifts until Christmas is about a week away. Giving (and obviously receiving) gifts is one of the most exciting traditions of Christmas. However, we can get so caught up in physical wrapping and unwrapping of boxes on December 25 that we often times will forget the greatest gift we continue to receive daily from God; His grace.

Through God sending His son, Jesus, to dwell amongst man, and be unjustly crucified we have received the gift of reconciliation back into a proper relationship with God. Regardless of what gift you give or receive this Christmas, they will all pail in comparison to the gift we have received through Christ. With every gift that you give this Christmas, remember the ultimate gift we have received from Christ. With every present that you unwrap on Christmas, remember that the greatest present you could have ever received has already been given to you.

This Christmas. Remember Jesus more. Enjoy the tree. Enjoy the lights and the cookies. Enjoy the presents. But above all, be sure to enjoy Jesus.

David Barrett