A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

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SPIRITUAL BAPTIST ARCHDIOCESE OF ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

His Grace Hon. Frank Simon

Luke 2:8–14 (KJV 1900) —

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, Good will toward men.

Luke 2:9 (NIV84) — 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

Christmas sure doesn’t last. In just a few days trees will be on the side of the road, decorations taken down and on to the next celebration. A man wins a new Lamborghini. Within 5 hours he had crashed. How many gifts will break and wear out or be regifted within this next year. That is the trouble with the things of Christmas; they all have a shelf life. That is everything but the real meaning of Christmas. That has carried over for 2000 years. With all that takes place during the Christmas season, I would like to set our focus back to where it belongs. We all can focus on family, on gifts, on meals, on decorations, vacations and travels. We can also focus so much on the peripheral of the Christmas story. We can focus on angels, on shepherd, on Mary and Joseph, on no room in the inn, but Christmas is really all about God. Our focus needs to be directed on the Lord. Handel’s Messiah had a song “and the glory”. So easily we can miss what it means, “and the glory of the Lord shone around them.” This phrase is a powerful revelation of the Lord God’s presence at Christmas. “The Glory of the Lord.”

 

  • What is the glory?

As you look at all the pictures that depict the angels in the sky at Christmas the artists try to make it look bright and shiny behind the angels. What is missed is that the bright and shiny is not from the presence of the angels, but rather from the presence of the Lord himself.

When the Lord in all his glory is seen it is too awesome for humans to behold with the naked eye. It would be almost like looking directly into the sun. Our eyes could not take the full glory and live. God told Moses: Exodus 33:20-23 (NIV84) — 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” 21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

Other times we have the Glory of the Lord displayed for example is on Mount Sinai. Exo 24:15-18 NIV) When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, {16} and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. {17} To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.

When it came time for church in the Tabernacle and the Lord made his presence known, we read: (Exo 40:34-35 NIV) Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. {35} Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. In later years when Solomon had built the temple for the Lord, we read: (2 Chr 7:1-3 NIV) When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. {2} The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. {3} When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple.

Isaiah the prophet foretold the coming of Christmas. He wrote: (Isa 40:5 NIV) And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Luke 2:9 NIV) An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

  1. Where was the glory in Jesus?

In the New Testament we read about Jesus. Hebrews 1:3 (NIV84) — 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being. So how was it possible for the shepherd to approach the baby Jesus? What does it mean for his very being? How could the Lord be in flesh and blood? We read: Philippians 2:7 (NIV84) — 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Before Jesus went to the cross he reflected on what it was like for his very being and essence before he came to earth. In his high priestly prayer in John 17 we read: John 17:5 (NIV84) — 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

The disciples would get glimpse of his glory during his ministry. John would write: (John 1:14 NIV) The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. The Apostle Peter wrote about the time they experienced just a little of the glory of the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration: 2 Peter 1:16–17 (NIV84) — 16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.

The day is coming when all people will see the glory of the Lord. Matthew 25:31–32 (NIV84) — 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

iii. Impact of the glory

The very presence of the Lord at the first Christmas invoked the full sense of fear. Remember the words describing the shepherds? “They were terrified.” Remember God’s own words to Moses, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” For sinful human beings coming into the presence of God it is terrifying. Our flesh would tremble just like the people of old. The Psalmist raises the question, Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart. In the book of Revelation we have the same picture as of old: Revelation 15:8 (NIV84) — 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple… How are we described in the Bible? Romans 3:23 (NIV84) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We would all be still terrified at the glory of the Lord. Each one of us would be able to say, “My conscience, my past, my thoughts, my actions, my failures all would haunt me. Who am I to come into the presence of the holy, glorious God?” By faith we are able to pick up the baby Jesus in all his veiled glory and know him as God’s answer to a sinful world. What a difference Christ makes. He is the light of the world and then makes us light. We end up showing the presence of God in our lives. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV84) — 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Christmas does give us all hope. God’s presence revealed his saving nature. Even the angels knew what Christmas was all about. They were privileged to proclaim the hope and joy the Lord had given this world. Look what this all means. There was a dying man who story was recorded in the Bible. Acts 7:55 (NIV84) — 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Stephen was able to do this all because of Christmas. The message is loud and clear as the glory of the Lord shines round about, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” May we then join the angels by words and action and proclaim to our world: Luke 2:14 (NIV84) — 14 “Glory to God in the highest.” Amen.

Prayer:

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son, Jesus Christ, came to visit us in great humility, that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal through Him who lives and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever, Amen.

 

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Author: Sir Godfrey Gregg

Sir Godfrey Gregg is one of the Administrators and managing Director of this site