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!
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… Rather than three French hens, our carol today repeats this line “three” times in each refrain. “O come, let us adore him!” We can adore Christ the Lord in the here and now!
As you read through the lyrics of this carol, let yourself be transported back to Bethlehem. Read Luke 2:8-16. Imagine you’ve tagged along with the shepherds, anxious to see this thing they’ve just heard about.
If you’re like me, you’ve heard the Christmas story over and over again since you were a little child. You may have played an angel, a shepherd, or a wise man in a pageant or two. In my case, I don’t have that childhood memory because our church didn’t do that. I sang in a choir instead. Choir robes weren’t the same as a costume! I suppose that’s why as an adult, and as a children’s ministry director, I was so excited to bring this tradition to hundreds of children. Those are definitely memories I treasure.
Do we really understand the shepherds in the story? You know, the lowly ones left to tend to their flocks day and night. In the culture of the day, shepherds were not the admired ones in society. Little boys did not dream of being a shepherd. Of course, if you came from a family of shepherds, you would probably be a shepherd by default. It’s easy for us to look down on them because of how they were viewed by the rest of the population, but God didn’t. God gave them a very special gift.
What a night! A blessed night. If you’re like me, you read these words and pictured a certain Christmas pageant from years gone by telling of the Christmas story. Maybe you even took part as an angel or shepherd. Sadly, the church I went to as a child didn’t do a nativity play. There wasn’t the anticipation each year of who will get to play Mary or an angel, etc.
When I was children’s ministry director, I made sure there was Christmas play each year, and that the story of Christ’s birth was central. So many programs written for kids these days are about snowflakes or presents or other more “holiday” type themes. Continue reading “Luke 2:8-20 – Gloria!”