A Hymn for the Son

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

(Luke 2:13–14, NASB)

My favorite Christmas memory is not about a single celebration but a tradition we created for my wife’s family, which consists of believers and nonbelievers. For years we celebrated Christmas Eve with her family each year. After doing the presents, the adults from four families plus her parents would all gather around the fire in the living room and read from the account in Luke. Whenever we hit a scriptural phrase that reminded us of a Christmas hymn, someone would name the hymn’s title and we would sing the first verse of that hymn. Anyone could chime in with what they thought was appropriate. Everyone loved doing this to get in tune with the season. When the family gathers today, we still do this as we have done for decades.

The exercise is a reminder that Christmas is about far more than the birth of a child in a humble stable. It is a day that points to a birth sung about around the world because that child, placed in a manger, was “the Word became flesh.” God loving us to the point of becoming one among us. God taking on life frail and fallen, God imaging what life is all about. So He came. He gave. He served. He poured Himself out. And then He showed that there was more to life than death—life is about being made in God’s image and honoring the One who made us. And love is about a God who cared so much that He died not only to bear our sin and penalty but to offer the life beyond the grave to which His resurrection attests. When heaven came down to earth, God was writing a hymn to His love—His love for us.