The Angels' Song - Gloria

We all have our favorite Christmas playlists that we pull out after Thanksgiving. But the FIRST playlist can be found in Luke 1 & 2.

Written by Pastors Mike Biolsi & Len Flack on .

Notes

Today we continue our series “Christmas Playlist” from the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke. We’ve already looked at Mary’s song and Zechariah’s song, both from the first chapter. Now, as we begin chapter 2, we’ll look at another song (a very short song!), sung by the Angels who had been tasked with announcing the birth of Christ, the Messiah.

That Old Familiar Story

The first 20 verses of Luke 2 tell an old and familiar story:

Luke 2:1–20 (NLT) - At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

15 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.”

16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Here we have all the traditional elements of the Christmas narrative [Expand each point, tying back into prophecy and redemptive themes]:

  • The Roman occupation conducting a census that would lead Joseph and Mary away from Nazareth and to Bethlehem.
  • The “obviously pregnant” woman traveling with her fiancĂ©e, uncomfortable both physically and socially.
  • The birth of the promised child, in less than sterile conditions.
  • The proclamation of the Angel – a messenger of the Lord – that the Messiah had come.
  • The desire of the shepherds (social outcasts) to visit and testify to what God had done.

When we read these words each Christmas, sometimes it’s easy to miss some of what’s going on here. We can often be sentimental about the Christmas story... which isn’t necessarily bad! However, being sentimental may mean we also tend to gloss over the larger connections that some of the details provide. However, as you can see from each of the aspects we touched on, the story of Christmas is quite large and powerful.

Don’t Be Afraid!

One of the most interesting aspects of the story takes place right after the Angel tells the shepherds about the birth of Jesus. Starting with that announcement in verse 9, this is what we read:

9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,

and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Pastor Mike picked up on something interesting in 9-10: The first thing the angel says to the shepherds is “Don’t be afraid!”.

This is the third angelic message we’ve seen in our time in Luke. An angel appeared to Zechariah, and later to Mary, before this visit. And guess what was said each time? Don’t be afraid.

Apparently, it’s quite common to become confused and fearful when an angel shows up. But, the folks we’ve seen so far didn’t have to worry or be afraid. In each case the angel came to share good news. In fact, verses 9-12 are the initial public proclamation of Good News: Jesus, the Savior and Messiah, has come.

The angel connects this Good News to something we’ve already looked at in the previous two songs: The Messiah is connected to King David. As we’ve seen, God has worked from the beginning of human history to unfold and expand the story of redemption through his covenants with Abraham, Moses, David, and so on. All the songs we’ve looked at talk about this. And here, in Luke 2, we see a connection. We see a fulfilment. This points back to Micah 5:2, hundreds of years before Christ, where we’re told the promised messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

The Birth of Christ leads to the fulfilment of God’s MANY promises to send a savior, and messiah. Jesus is the full revelation of God’s work to redeem his people. He is who God’s people had been waiting for, for centuries.

The Angel’s Song: Gloria, In Excelsis Deo

After revealing what God has been doing to bring about his redemptive plan, the lone angel is joined by a large number of angels. They join in song, singing:

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Verse 1 – Glory to God

This song is the shortest one we’ll look at in our series together. Though it takes only one Bible verse, it can be broken up into two distinct parts.

First, we have the section that says “Glory to God in highest heaven,”.

As we've discussed, the birth of Christ was a fulfilment. God had been faithful to provide a means of redemption for His people. It was the highest and most tangible expression of His love and mercy that had been revealed to the world. It magnified the display of his goodness and grace.

And in response, the host of heaven rejoiced!

They understood the eternal significance of the birth of Jesus, and it caused them to sing with joy, in worship of God.

Of course, that was heaven's response. But what about down here?

Verse 2 – Peace

The second song verse comes from the second half of 14: “and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

So, heaven rejoiced at the coming of Christ, but for those of us here on earth, Christ was meant to bring peace!

But... have you ever stopped to think about what kind of peace he was meant to bring?

  • Peace in the beautiful winter snow? (Driving on Pennock Road in a Blizzard...)
  • Peace with our fellow man? (Black Friday Fights!)

Or, is it something altogether different? And, who does it apply to? Romans 5:1 gives us the answer:

Romans 5:1 (NLT) - Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace* with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

We have peace with God because of what Jesus has done for us: His perfect life, His sacrifice for our sin, and His resurrection from the dead. All of those things work together to save us from the wrath of God that is due because of our sin, and instead give us peace, an end to the rebellion and hostility!

This peace is for His people, not just all mankind as we often think of at Christmas-time. His people are called by His name... A specific, covenantal group. Those with whom he is pleased, according to Luke 2:14. This group is all those who have been made right – justified – in God’s sight, specifically by faith. By trusting in Christ, and taking hold of the free gift of salvation that has been offered.

The beauty of the Gospel is that this peace, the free gift, is offered to all people. Looking back up at verse 10, the angel told the shepherds ““I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”.

As we’ve shared before, God’s redemptive plan has been slowly and gradually revealed. He began with a Covenant with Abraham, and then Moses, and then David, and so on, slowly showing more and more of what he desires to accomplish. Here, we see the nature of God’s plan revealed: Salvation is not just for the physical nation of Israel. It’s expanded to the Gentiles as well. Jews AND Gentiles; all people!

All people have a reason to rejoice, when they find their faith in Jesus Christ!

Is this song part of YOUR personal playlist?

But, what about you?

Do you have peace this Christmas season? Do you know in your heart of hearts, that regardless of what is going on in your life, you are loved and cared about by the creator and sustainer of the universe? That he gave His life for you, purchased your salvation, and is working day by day to grow you in His grace?

Or is there a hostility that exists to Christ, and the things of God? Is there fear or doubt in your heart as you consider the things we’ve talked about this morning?

There doesn’t have to be.

Don’t be afraid; Peace can be yours!

Romans 10:9–10 (NLT) - 9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.


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NCF was started in 1987 to minister to the growing population of Fort Drum and Jefferson County. Located in Carthage, just minutes away from Ft Drum, Lowville and Watertown, it is a blended congregation of local and military folks, single soldiers, young families and grandparents.

35206 Sayre Road
PO Box 823
Carthage NY 13619
315-493-3958
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