For the past 23 days we have been taking time to consider the true message and meaning of Christmas. We have done so through the Bible's prophecies, pictures and patterns that outline the plan of God in Christmas. We have crisscrossed our way back and forth between the Old and New Testaments - focusing more on the Preparation leading up to Christ's birth. Christmas Eve is special - and so I thought what we would do today is to begin considering the role of Music in Christmas.
The Praises of Jesus' birth in Luke
The infancy narratives in the first two chapters of Luke's Gospel record for us five songs and poems sung by various saints or angels that praise the arrival of God in human flesh. The first two that we will consider occured right before Christ's birth. They are found in Luke 1:46-56 and Luke 1:67-79.
Strange names but Magnificent meaning
If you notice in some of your Bibles, these particular portions of scripture have weird sounding titles. For instance the first song, the song of Mary, is called "The Magnificat". The reason for this is because these are the first words of Mary's song as it is recorded in the Latin Bible - The Vullgate. This was the version of the Bible used for 1,000 years in the Old Roman Catholic Church and the influence of that version carried over into some of the terms we use in describing details of the Bible. "The Magnificat" is Latin for "The Exultation". You may recognize from the word our English word "Magnificent". No doubt, what Mary sings and Who she sings about is the one who is God, coming through her womb as a virgin born human being.
The second song in Luke's record is the song of Zecharias called "The Benedictus" (meaning blessed). Perhaps you have heard of an opening prayer where the persons asks for God's blessing on a given event as being called a "benediction". Like the first, the meaning is profound, in that Zecharias is praising God for his sending of the forerunner through he and his wife, Elizabeth. No doubt, the events surrounding the Savior's coming into the world were indeed blessed!
The Wonder of the Magnificat (Mary's song)
We can note three things about Mary's song in Luke 1:46-56:
1. The Savior in her womb is personally meaningful Notice how often Mary uses the words "my" or "me" in 1:46-49. Mary sees the profound significance of Christ's coming for her own life. She has embraced everything spoken to her by the angel. She has taken God at His word and is overjoyed at the fact that in her womb is the Living word.
2. The Savior in her womb is powerfully Mighty In Luke 1:50-53 Mary rehearses how this One in her womb Pre-existed as the God of glory throughout the history of the world. He is Sovereign ruler over the nations. (Psalm 2). He is God and God alone and will not share His glory with any other. He knows how to deliver His people. These ideas flow from Mary's lips as the Holy Spirit gives her utterance.
3. The Savior in her womb is prophecy's fulfillment In Luke 1:54-55 Mary is thinking of all the times God promised and predicted the coming of Messiah. From Abraham down to Malachi, God kept revealing how the Promise of Salvation would one day become the Person of salvation, born in due time. For Mary, the literal fulfillment of that truth was now living inside of her.
The Wonder of the Benedictus (Zechariah's song)
With Mary praising the wonder of Christ's soon birth, Zechariah too is praising God for the fact of the forerunner - John. With only 6 months difference between their births, God's perfect timing was truly incredible. This song is full of statements regarding God's promises and prophecies about salvation, redemption and the Light of Hope that is seen in the coming of Messiah. The one who would announce that coming is spoken of in scriptures such as Malachi 4 and Isaiah 40. Truly the power of worship was declaring that the plan of God in Heaven was getting ready to touch down here on earth. It is not long, Christmas was almost here.
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Saturday, December 24, 2011
Musical Christmas Eve
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