How to Celebrate Christmas: God’s Glory

This is the final installment of J.M. Boyce’s “How To Celebrate Christmas” from the book, The Christ of Christmas.

If these four means of Celebrating Christmas seem right to you, and if you want to put them into practice, I suggest that you begin not with the first verse (Luke 2:17) but with verses 18, 19, and 20.  Verse 17 says that we are to tell others what we have seen and heard; but we can hardly do that effectively until we have first been amazed at Christ’s birth, pondered its meaning, and glorified and praised God for it.  You cannot tell that which you have not first felt and experienced.

So begin by wondering – wondering at the fact that you have not suffered the just punishment of your sin, that God has loved you, that Jesus came and died for you, that God called you to faith in Himself when you were yet without hope of salvation, and that you are now God’s child and secure in His love.  Continue by thinking upon these things.  Ponder the great doctrines of the Christian faith – doctrines of the incarnation, atonement, grace, sanctification, heaven, perseverance, and others – so that you begin to grow strong in doctrine.  Glorify and praise God for what you know.  Sing God’s praises. Then, when you have done that and are qualified to speak, go back and tell others.

Furthermore, do not think that you need to go back to church in order to do those things, but learn rather to do them wherever God sends you – in your home, school, business.  That is what the shepherds did.  We are told that they “returned,” glorifying and praising God.  To what did they return”  Why, to their sheep, obviously.  And there, where they had first heart the angels’ song, they themselves were heard to be singing God’s praise.

May God give you grace to do that.  If you and I and all others who call upon the name of our God should do it, the whole world would rightly resound with His praise.

SDG

How To Celebrate Christmas #4: Praise and Glory

Here is the final installment of J.M. Boyce’s “How to Celebrate Christmas” from his book The Christ of Christmas.

Finally, the text suggests that we celebrate Christmas by glorifying God and by praising Him: “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:20).  To do that is to worship God both by words and in song.

I love the word glory, or glorify.  It is one of the great words of the Greek language.  Long ago, when that language was in its infancy, the word from which glory came  meant “to have an opinion.”  Later it came to mean only “to have a good opinion.”  Finally, by an obvious extension, it meant a person’s true “worth.”  The noun form of the word is doxa, which we have in our own words orthodox, heterodox, and paradox.  Those words mean “a right opinion,” “a wrong opinion,” and “a contradictory opinion” respectively.

When you acknowledge a person’s true worth, which is only another way of saying that you express a proper opinion of him, you may be said to be glorifying him.  That is the sense in which we glorify God.  Moreover, since acknowledging His true worth is the essential meaning of worship – it means to acknowledge God’s worth-ship – to glorify God is to worship Him by words.  It is in that sense a doxology, which means to express a right opinion of God verbally.

That is what the shepherds did, and we are to imitate them.  You can tell if you do by attempting to rehearse God’s attributes. What are they?  The birth of Christ itself teaches us of God’s love; for God loved us so much that He became man in order to die for us.  It also teaches us God’s power, for an incarnation is beyond our ability even to imagine, let alone to bring into being.  In the birth we see God’s wisdom.  We learn of His mercy.  We see His disposition to use little things, to exalt the humble, and to subdue the proud.  We see His grace.  Have you seen those things and confessed them to God and others?

You can do that in song.  For praising God is essentially an act of glorifying God with the whole being, and, in this, music quite naturally takes part.  That is why carols are so much a rightful part of Christmas; for, when sung by those who understand them, they are a means of praise.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King.”

Joy to the world! the Lord is come.

O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him
Born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

SDG