16th Day of Advent
December 12, 2022
As praise marked that first Christmas, I pray that praise will mark our own celebration of Christmas. Despite all the challenges of 2022, take a short journey with me through the praises of those in the Christmas story.
Mary – Mary leads the way with praise. “My soul exalts the Lord” were the first words of her song of praise called “The Magnificat” (Luke 1.46-55). Even at the initial words of Gabriel she is already filled with praise. “And Mary said, ‘Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1.38).
Zacharias, on the birth of his son was filled with praise. Read his song of praise in Luke 1.67-79. I love his words in verse 78, “the Sunrise from on high will visit us.”
We don’t often think of Joseph being filled with praise, but I think of it this way. If obedience is a form of praise (and it is – it may be the highest form of praise), I love the obedience and the praise of Joseph. “And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus” (Matthew 1.24-25). In fact, while no words of Joseph are recorded in the birth narratives, he is sighted 3 times for his obedience (taking Mary, leaving for Egypt, and returning to Nazareth).
John the Baptist leaped for joy in being in the presence of Jesus while he (John) was still in his mother’s womb at six months of age. Imagine that. “When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb” (Luke 1.41). John the Baptist is praising God before He was ever born.
It is no wonder that Elizabeth, who carried John the Baptist in her womb, cried out in praise when Mary came to be with her. “And how has it happened to me that the mother of my Lord would come to me” (Luke 1.43)!?!
We come next to the praise of the angelic host as they heralded the Savior’s birth that first Christmas night.
“And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased’” (Luke 2.13-14).
The shepherds followed the praise of the angels with their own joy of praise. “The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them” (Luke 2.20).
Read the praise of Simeon (Luke 2.25-32) and listen to his words;
"Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES,
And the glory of Your people Israel."
Moments after Luke records the praises of Simeon, he introduces us to Anna, an 84 year old widow; “At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2.38).
Finally, we recall the journey of the magi and the praise they gave to the newborn King of the Jews.
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh”
Now, let’s consider this final question as it pertains to us. If someone were to record the day-to-day details of our Christmas season this year, how much would they record our voices of personal praise in response to the work of God through our Savior? And let’s exclude church because none of the voices of praise in our Christmas story were “in church” except for Simeon and Anna (and while they were in the temple, their praise was not part of a worship service).
Can we make it a point to have our voices of praise this Christmas heard throughout our days, wherever we go? Christmas call us to a life of praise – every day (Psalm 118.24).
Even though 2022 has been a difficult and challenging year again with the divisiveness of politics, the church and Christians ought to stand out as a people of praise and worship. We are citizens of heaven, and our hearts are captivated by who God is and all that He is about in our lives. That’s the story of Christmas! That is the message of the church and the song of Christians as we honor and celebrate not only the birth of Jesus but as King of our lives and the nations.
His reign has no end (Isaiah 9.7).
Happy 16th Day of Advent.