This time of year, it becomes obvious that we don’t remember much more than the first verse of most Christmas Carols. As we lead up to Christmas this week, I want to explore some powerful verses in some of my favorite carols.
I have an angel as part of my annual Christmas decorations for my yard. This year, my son has been asking me, “Dada, what’s he saying?” I tell him, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger (Luke 2:10-12 KJV). Then several other angels joined him and they started singing!”
We can only imagine what that celebration looked like. The farther we get from an agrarian society and into a technological one, the harder it is to imagine sitting on a hillside at night, watching sheep, and having angels pop out of no where. In 1739, Charles Wesley must have been imagining that incredible night as he composed, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”. Nor did George Whitefield in 1758, who adapted it to what we sing today.
The verse I want to focus on is this:
Christ by highest Heav’n adored, Christ the everlasting Lord; Late in time behold-Him come, Offspring of the Virgin’s womb. Veil’d in flesh the Godhead see, Hail th’ incarnate Deity! Pleas’d as Man with Men t’ appear, Jesus our Emmanuel here.
My favorite part of that is the second half. This time of year, we celebrate that God came down, took on the form of a human, so that He could be Emmanuel, God with us. He veiled Himself in flesh so He could better be acquainted with all we experience. Philippians 2:6-7 puts it this way, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being” (NLT).
This Christmas season, let’s not forget that the baby birth we are celebrating was God veiled in flesh. He came to being peace on earth and goodwill toward men. The Angels celebrated that night and we have been celebrating since. Our God came to us so that we could be with Him. This baby grew up and died a criminal’s death in order to pay for our sins. When we think of that, we can celebrate with those heralding angels that God and sinners are able to be reconciled.