Family Advent Devotions for the Week of Christmas

Family Advent Devotions for the Week of Christmas

Monday, 21 December 2020 14:07

Christmas is the end of the week. It is one of the most anticipated Christmases in recent memory as a welcome reprieve from the events of this year. Many people in Northville were putting up their decorations well before Thanksgiving, and some will hesitate to take them down after the holiday passes.

There was a Christmas more anticipated than this year. For thousands of years, the Hebrew people waited for the Messiah God promised to send to save the world. From the moment we fell, God promised to send one who would be born of a woman who could defeat the Serpent, sin, and death. Generations waited, searching the skies for signs of the star that finally, after many millennia, appeared in the east.  That Christmas changed the world and continues to change humanity to this day.

 

The holiday season is always fraught with busyness and stress for parents of school-age children. However, the anticipation of this Christmas is an opportunity to focus on the real reason for the holiday. Here are four short devotionals based on some of the most popular Advent songs. These hymns emphasize the importance of Jesus’ incarnation and give you the opportunity to sing with your children. You can lead your family in one per day through Christmas morning, or do two on Christmas Eve and two on Christmas morning.

Devotion 1 | HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING!

Scripture to Ponder: John 3:1-8 & Ezekiel 36:22-28

Charles Wesley penned this Advent classic with later contributions from George Whitfield. Is there another song packed so rich with exuberant Christology as this one? And yet, Hark the Herald Angels Sing! is so popular and pervasive in culture, Charles Wesley has an IMDB page with almost 200 television and movie credits, with titles such as:

  • It’s a Wonderful Life - 1946
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas – 1965
  • Episodes of MacGyver & Matlock – 1989
  • Jumanji – 1995
  • House ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – 2008
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine ‘Captain Latvia’ – 2016

In the final triumphant stanza, we sing about the glory Jesus laid aside that we might be born again. Nicodemus, a Pharisee, asked Jesus how to go to Heaven. Jesus told him that only those born again by the Spirit have eternal life. Confused, Nicodemus pondered how he might accomplish re-entering his mother’s womb before Jesus interrupts him to ask why a teacher of the law would not be familiar with the New Birth, calling our attention to Ezekiel 36.

There God told Ezekiel that he would remove sinner’s cold dead hearts and replace them with beating hearts of flesh. These are spiritual hearts that keep on beating long after our physical, mortal hearts stop. These are hearts bought by the Heaven-born Prince of Peace. Jesus was born so that we would stop being dead and come alive. The Advent signaled the death of death in birth, life, and death of the new-born King.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing! | Charles Wesley – George Whitfield
1739

Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled."
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic host proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem."
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King!

Christ, by highest heaven adored:
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, Incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King!

Hail! the heaven-born
Prince of peace!
Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the son of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King!"

Devotion 2 | THE FIRST NOEL

Scripture to Ponder: Matthew 2:1-15

Who is this King, born in Bethlehem? That was the question for many. Some wondered at the spectacle. Some worshiped the royal Messiah. Some were threatened by the unusual star shining in the east, over the land of the long-silent God of Israel. King Herod sent his best and brightest to investigate the baby born in Bethlehem, whose story seemed to line with the stars and prophecies. On that first Noel, the wise men never returned to Herod but bowed their knee to the infant King of Israel.

The First Noel | Anonymous Traditional English Carol
1833

The first Noel the angels 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
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

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
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

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
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

This star drew nigh to the northwest
O'er Bethlehem it took its rest
And there it did both stop and stay
Right o'er the place where Jesus lay
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then entered in those Wise men three
Fell reverently upon their knee
And offered there in His presence
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the kind of Israel!

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made heaven and earth of nought
And with his blood mankind has bought
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Devotion 3 | ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH

Scripture to Ponder: Luke 2:14 + Hebrews 11

Synonymous with the Christmas season, Angels We Have Heard on High is among the most ubiquitous Advent songs. James Chadwick added his own lyrics to this song, originally a French carol. This song is a celebration of the long-awaited Messiah and King. The Latin refrain means, Glory to God in the Highest, calling to mind the angels’ song in Luke 2:14:

“Glory to God in the highest,
 and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

With whom is God pleased? He is pleased with His Son (Luke 3:22). He is not pleased with the Pharisees and the self-righteous. He is pleased with everyone who has faith in the Son and His works. Without faith, it is impossible to please him (Hebrews 11:6). For those who believe, we have peace with the Father, the reconciliation that Christ paid for by his death and resurrection.

Angels We Have Heard on High | James Chadwick
1862

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly, sweetly through the night
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their brief delight

Gloria, in excelsis Deo
Gloria, in excelsis Deo

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?

Gloria, in excelsis Deo
Gloria, in excelsis Deo

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing,
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo
Gloria, in excelsis Deo

Devotion 5 | JOY TO THE WORLD

Scripture to Ponder: Psalm 96 & Psalm 98

The writer of this hymn did not necessarily intend for it to be a primary part of the Christmas canon; however, the birth of Christ is indeed one of the most joyful events in human history.

The nations have received their King. The whole earth has received its salvation. Far as the curse is found, the cure was born to a virgin and placed in a feeding trough. The Advent is not just for Israel, it is for the nations. Joy to the World is one of the most famous and popular Christmas carols. Penned by prolific hymn writer Isaac Watts in the early 18th Century, let this be a proclamation for you and your family that you and the nations can sing for pure joy now and forever because of the glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love.

Joy to the World | Isaac Watts
16th Century

Joy to the World; the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev'ry heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields & floods, rocks, hills & plains
Repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love.

St. Paul Lutheran School in Northville, MI

At St. Paul Lutheran School, we are looking forward to celebrating Christmas with our families. We have seen God provide for us and our school in amazing ways we would not have anticipated. The Advent of Christ and his death and resurrection are the greatest gifts God has ever given. Our faculty and staff wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. If you are considering private education in Northville, MI, give us a call at St. Paul Lutheran School. We are committed to providing a high-quality academic experience in addition to emphasizing the importance of the gospel and discipleship.