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The First Noel

What was it really like that first Christmas? A small middle-eastern town was packed with people on account of a mandatory census. Shepherds were keeping watch over their sheep throughout a cool night. People were unaware of the eternal implications of a new birth, a divine King.

Noel?

Noel is the French word for Christmas, from the Latin word “natalis” meaning birthday.

noel

Photo credit: Gilles Couteau (cc)

Announcing the Savior’s birth

“The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay:
In fields where they lay a keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel Noel Noel Noel
Born is the King of Israel.”

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven,  and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:8-15)

A sign of the divine

“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 the 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.”

“The wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matt. 2:9-11)

The King has come

The newborn King came to be enthroned in the hearts of mankind. Many things in this world compete for your affections — busy schedules, the pursuit of comfort, an endless hope for gain, assurance and guarantee from harm. Many things can keep your focus off of Jesus.

Will you crown Jesus your King?”

The challenge

Enthrone Christ in your heart. Do not allow temporal and perishable things overtake a relationship with God.

What competes with the newborn King in your life? Share your comments below.

A King in Disguise

Why did Jesus come in such a humble manner? Why was it necessary for the divine to come to earth?

king

Photo credit: Lawrence OP (cc)

An advent parable, A King in Disguise, written by Soren Kierkegaard (modified) gives us some insight:

“Once upon a time, there was a prince who was single and very eager to marry a lovely maiden for his future queen. Near his palace was a large city, and often he rode his carriage down to the city to take care of various chores for his father. One day, to reach a particular merchant, he had to go through a rather poor section. He happened to glance out of the window and right into the eyes of a beautiful maiden.

“He had occasion on the next few days to return to the section of the city–drawn as he was by the eyes of the maiden. And more than that, he had the good fortune once or twice actually to meet this young girl. Soon he began to feel that he was in love with her. But now he had a problem. How should he proceed to procure her hand?

“Of course, he could order her to the palace and there propose marriage. But even a prince would like to feel that the girl he marries wants to marry him. Or perhaps, somewhat more graciously, he could arrive at her door in his most resplendent uniform and, with a bow, ask her hand. But even a prince wants to marry for love.

“Again, he could masquerade as a peasant and try to gain her interest. After he proposed, he could pull off his ‘mask.’ Still, the masquerade would be ‘phony.’ He really could not manage it.

“Finally a real solution presented itself to his mind. He would give up his kingly role and move into her neighborhood. There he would take up work as, say, a carpenter. During his work in the day and during his time off in the evening, he would get acquainted with the people, begin to share their interests and concerns, begin to talk their language. And in due time, should fortune be with him, he would make her acquaintance in a natural way. And should she come to love him, as he had already come to love her, then he would ask for her hand.

“Over time, she did fall in love with the carpenter. She adored him. She believed in all of her heart that he was poor, simple, and common, and she loved him like that. And so, one day he proposed marriage, and she accepted. He still didn’t tell her he was a prince, a soon-to-be king. He simply told her to put on a beautiful dress, and on a particular day, he would come and pick her up, and then he would take her to the wedding. He would take care of all the details and surprise her.

“So she was there with her family and her friends, and an army of chariots and soldiers and banners and musicians – thousands upon thousands, showed up. They picked up this girl from the poor section of town, and they carried right through the palace gates – trumpets blaring, right down the aisle.

“Seated on the throne, she saw the prince, her soon-to-be husband. She got off of her chariot. She walked up to the prince and he told her, ‘I wanted you to love me not because I was going to be king, but I wanted you to love me simply for the sake of loving me. Then I could show you that I was the soon-coming king, and I would know that your love for me would always be true.’”

God did the same thing for us. He came in an unexpected way, a humble, simple, regular, normal way – as a regular guy, from a regular town, with a regular mom and a regular dad, living a regular life but being God. The world did not recognize him and rejected him. “He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.” (John 1:10-11)

They said, “We are waiting for a king.” Jesus says,

I am a king, and if you love me, I’ll take you to the palace, but love Me first.”

He loves you and He wants your love, but freely and voluntarily. He could have ordered you to love Him but is that love? He could have appeared to you in kingly glory. Who would not be awed by such splendor? He wanted to win your love without dazzling and overwhelming you with the magnificence of His divinity. Paul writes “…though he was by nature God, [He] did not consider being equal with God a thing to be clung to, but emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave, and being made like unto men. And appearing in the form of man he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

The world says, “We will not marry a common, poor, simple Jesus. We are waiting for someone better.”

Then he rose from the dead. What a King! God meets you on your level that you might respond freely to His love.

Christmas is a great time to respond to His love. Will you give a wholehearted response to His love this Christmas season? Will you commit yourself to the King? Share your comments below.