En Excelsis Deo

Lately, when it is my week to write instead of thinking of a picture I learned from that week, I’ve been asking myself the question “What is God teaching me right now?” Sometimes that still comes with a picture and sometimes it does not. Part of me doesn’t want to post this because I know people come to blogs to read something quick and light.

Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence by Caravaggio

Many of us have been listening to Christmas music for a week or so now. If you ask most people they will tell you it gets them in the ‘mood’ for Christmas. It is a happy time, a celebratory time. I don’t have something to say to dampen this; in fact, I hope it magnifies. I would like us to consider the words of this Christmas hymn:

Angels we have heard on high Sweetly singing o’er the plains, And the mountains in reply Echoing their joyous strains.

Refrain: 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 heav’nly song?

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

See Him in a manger laid, Whom the choirs of angels praise; Mary, Joseph, lend your aid, While our hearts in love we raise.

“Glooooria, in excelsis Deo” then repeat. If you are a Christian, then likely this is a time that you spend time thinking about the coming of the birth of Christ. Remembering that he came to earth and was born in a stable. There is nothing glorious about a barn or the animals in it.

Nativity-(Holy-Night)-1528
Adoration of the Sheperds by Antonio da Correggio

Yet angels were singing glory. What was glorious? Why did Christ come? You likely have heard many times that it was to die on the cross, but have you considered that all of it was for the glory of God the Father. We get wrapped up in the idea that Jesus came for us, but in reality he came for his Father. He came so that his Father would be glorified. Gloria. Gloria.

 

John Piper delivered this shocking news to me in the book Brothers, We Are Not Professionals,

“Why is it important to be stunned by the God-centeredness of God? Because many people are willing to be God-centered as long as they feel that God is man-centered…Over against this danger I urge you to ponder the implications brothers that God loves His glory more than He loves us and that this is the foundation of His love for us” (p. 6)

Piper goes on to say, “Christ died to glorify the Father and repair all the defamation we had brought upon His honor. Our only hope, is that the death of Christ satisfied God’s righteous claims to receive proper glory from His creatures.” (p.8) (emphasis mine)

This time of year Christians are reminded of Jesus’ humbleness to come to earth as a baby and live a basically ordinary life. Praise the Lord, this is true. Let’s not forget though that the humility was ultimately for the GLORY of God.  So when Christmas hymns come on your Pandora station, iTunes, Spotify, or strangely a radio, take time to consider the words, the meaning, and let them bring you to worship the Lord Jesus who is no longer a baby in a manager.

 The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:22-26)


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