Devotional by Pastor Shawn Boonstra:
Glory to God in the Highest!
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!’”
—Luke 2:13, 14
One of my favorite childhood memories is the New Year’s Eve church service at my parents' church. Both of my parents were immigrants from Holland, and we belonged to a church made up almost exclusively of Dutch immigrants. And on New Year’s Eve, everybody went to church. Of course, as a young boy, I wasn’t terribly excited about a church service and what promised to be a very long sermon on the last night of the year—I would rather have been home at the party, playing games and eating the hors d'oeuvres that only seemed to come out during holidays.
But there was one moment in that church service that still sticks with me to this day. At the close of the service, the congregation would sing an old Dutch hymn: “Ere Zij God in Den Hoge,” which is “Glory to God in the Highest.” It was the climax of the service—the absolute apex of worship.
I can’t really put my finger on exactly why I loved that so much. Maybe it was the majestic tune we used, or the bridge to the Old World and my family roots that the song represented. But now that I really think about what we were singing, it occurs to me that it was probably the only song in our hymnbook that was actually written by angels.
Take a careful look at the story and you’ll see that it was just one angel who made the announcement, and then suddenly, the rest of the angels jumped in with this song. It almost gives me the impression that they were standing there, barely able to contain themselves while the announcement was being made. Then as soon as the last word was uttered, they exploded into song. The arrival of Christ, as far as those angels were concerned, was the most important thing that had ever happened.
Of course, what’s really interesting is how most of the world missed it that night. Exactly why the angels picked those shepherds for a concert is something the Bible doesn’t spell out in detail, but by the looks of it, most of the rest of the world was fast asleep.
And it wasn’t as if they couldn’t know that Jesus had come. The prophecies had pointed unmistakably to this moment for centuries, and somehow, wise men from the East managed to figure out when it was time for the Messiah to come. But still, God’s own people were blithely unaware of what was going on.
Today, the same Jesus who was born in Bethlehem 20 centuries ago is still alive, and His ministry in Heaven on our behalf still gives angels a reason to celebrate. The question this holiday season is whether or not our hearts are still soft enough to hear the song of heaven.
If it were to happen today, would you be one of the people angels would choose for a special command performance? And when you read the story of Jesus, do you have trouble keeping it to yourself?
Maybe this holiday season, it’s time to start telling people about the difference God has made in your life—because for someone else, your story might be the key that unlocks a better way to live.
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Jewel - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing