Christmas in Story and Song

By Not Known

Today's services of Lessons and Carols follow a well-established traditional pattern. It is a good pattern, for it sets the coming of Jesus into a wide Biblical perspective.

Let's think about today's Scripture lessons.

We start with a passage that reminds us why Jesus had to come (Gen 3:22,24). Our rebellion against God meant exclusion from the paradise that he created for us. After Eden, huminly is in a state of exile – haunted by the echo of Eden and the knowledge that it was a foolish lost.

Fortunately God was not prepared to leave things like that. And so God made a covenant with Noah and then Abraham and expressed it in the Law of Moses. As Paul puts it,the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith (Gal 3: 24- 25). One important role of the law was to expose our needs of God's salvation by revealing just how far we are from God and how unable we are to bridge the gap ourselves.

That brings us to our second set of readings from Isaiah. Isaiah spoke at a time when the failures of the law were all too evident. The problem was not with God's law, but with God's people who chose to turn their backs on the godly lifestyle taught in the law. By Isaiah's day this led to national disaster. After Solomon's death, the nation split into two parts. First the northern and then the southern parts fell prey to external invaders. The land, people and blessings promised to Abraham were all lost. Along with the other prophets, Isaiah had two basic messages. The first was a message of God's judgement. The second was a message of God's mercy and hope, to be expressed in the coming of the special One to be sent from God.

Our final selections of reading come from Luke and Matthew's accounts of Jesus' birth. Both writers describe some details of the birth but both were more concerned to interpret its significance to us as the coming of God's salvation, promised beforehand through the prophets and as attested by their heavenly messengers.

In short, our lessons today tell a story. What Adam lost, Isaiah prophesied and God gave. As we appreciate the lost/given nature of this, we can all the more understand the jubilation of the carols that we sing today and echo them in our hearts. Let us listen and sing as people who truly and deeply appreciate the coming of Jesus.