Saturday, December 6, 2008

". . . join the triumph of the skies"

"and again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
'let all God's angels worship him.'"
(hebrews 1.6 tniv)

for some reason, i was recently thinking about my labor and delivery of our daughter, zoe. when this event happened six years ago, we weren't even really sure i was in labor, so we went ahead with our plans to have some people over for lunch. my pains grew steadily worse as i tried to smile through the meal and be a good hostess. even as we arrived at the hospital, i was so sure they were going to send me home that i didn't bring our overnight bag in with us. 6 hours later they handed me a our new baby girl. we had fun making all the phone calls to let people know our good news.

bill's parents were so excited about the birth of their first grandchild that they surprised us by flying in the next day. we proudly showed off baby zoe and basked in the glow of their excitement. my parents came the next day after a quick shopping trip for some frilly dresses and a teddy bear from grandpa. in the weeks that followed her birth, we celebrated again and again with friends and family. it was quite an exciting time for a lot of people.

at the birth of Jesus, we also see a great deal of celebrating, even though mary and joseph were away from friends and family. i'm trying to imagine how mary would have felt when a bunch of shepherds came to see her in the stable. did she bask in the glow of the joy of the shepherds? were there others who came to see why the shepherds had abandoned their flocks to visit a stable? since joseph probably didn't have cigars to hand out, what was their celebration like?

the author of hebrews tells us that God commanded the angels to worship at the birth of Christ. what was it like to hear the hosts of angels give voice to their praise of God for the gift of his firstborn? charles wesley describes the "triumph" of their song. the arrival of Christ is a triumph over the bondage of sin experienced by all people and even the earth itself. just like superman appearing out of nowhere to catch lois lane in a fall that would have surely meant her death, Jesus appears to save the world from the fall that meant death for everyone. Jesus' birth is a triumph of Good over evil in every sense of the words. again, how can we not join in the angels song of triumph?

"praise the LORD.
praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
let them praise the name of the LORD,
for at his command they were created,
and he established them for ever and ever—
he issued a decree that will never pass away.
praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and women,
old men and children.
let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens."
(psalm 148.1-6, 11-13)

for the kids: describe what it was like for you and your families on the day that they were born. let them know how excited everyone was and what they did as a result of their excitement. ask them to imagine the excitement of the different people who were involved with or witness to the birth of Christ. read the psalm out loud, reflecting on the extensive list of those who are to praise the Lord. for a project, make an angel garland to remember the heavenly host that announced the birth with triumph.

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