Day 8 🌲 The First Noel

Read Luke 2:8-20

the first noel, the nativity with the kings

Jesus’ birth ushered in the celebration of “noel,” which simply means “born on Christmas.” That’s why we won’t find the word “noel” in the Bible. It does speak of the birth we celebrate on Christmas and is quite a popular word in this carol. It’s good to remember the reason for the season because we often see the Christmas story portrayed in other ways these days. For instance, heartwarming Santa stories, to include one of my favorites, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

Our Christmas carol today is fun to sing, and there are six verses! I realized that the Lutheran hymnal from when I was a kid adds a sixth, very powerful verse, not found in most other sources. So, we’ll take a look at that today, too! The refrain or chorus is repeated after each verse. It’s simply, “Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel.” If you’re like me, the tune is rushing off your lips!

The first Noel 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.

They looked up and saw 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.

I love that the first announcement of Jesus’ birth was to the poor shepherds in the field that night. Shepherds weren’t the most popular of folks, not because they weren’t nice people, but because their work was so difficult, dirty, and distanced from humans. It was not at all prestigious to be a shepherd.

Yet these shepherds had great responsibility, and they took their job very seriously. Keeping their flocks safe was their top priority. Can you imagine how this particular quiet night (noel) got all messed up when the angel spoke!

The star that appeared and watched over the whole scene gets lots of attention in this song, too. I’ve always liked looking at the stars at night. There is something peaceful and serene about a black sky peppered with little twinkling lights. Don’t be too busy to look heavenward at night.

And by the light of that same star
three wise men came from country far;
to seek for a king was their intent,
and to follow the star wherever it went.

This one star was special. Its job was to bring attention and make a celestial announcement of its own. The wise men saw it. It must have been spectacular. What sorts of signs does God send into your life to get your attention?

This star drew nigh to the northwest,
O’er Bethlehem it took its rest,
and there it did both stop and stay
right over the place where Jesus lay.

Then entered in those wise men three
full reverently upon their knee,
and offered there in his presence
their gold, and myrrh, and frankincense.

When God gets our attention, how do we respond? Do we bow down? Do we give him our lives in service? How do you want to respond differently now?

Here’s the bonus verse. It masterfully takes us from creation to the cross! As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us not forget what he did for us! He was there in creation (John 1:1-5) and when the time was right he was buying our freedom on the cross (Galatians 5:1).

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
That hath made heaven and earth of naught,
And with his Blood mankind hath bought.

Thank you, Jesus, for coming into our world.

praying hands looking up

Let’s pray. Lord, give me the boldness I need to shout out the good news of your love and redemptive power. Help me spread your message of hope to the world in need of comfort. Thank you for your love, your sacrifice, your Son. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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