Dec10: Hallelujah!

Ambushed by the glory of God and the announcement of the Messiah’s birth, and mesmerized by a choir of angel voices, the shepherds were surely amazed at the angelic message: “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

The light had come into the world, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin in humble circumstances and laid in a manger. When the shepherds heard the news of the birth, they couldn’t help themselves, they had to check it out. After seeing the child, they had no other choice but to tell everyone they saw. They came away glorifying and praising God! Wow! This was really something.

That baby grew up to bring this message: “Change your way of thinking, the kingdom of God has drawn near.” God had given humanity its greatest gift, his presence in human form. This is the real gift of Christmas, God has come to be “with us.”

I love to hear a choir burst into the chorus, “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,Hallelujah, Hallelujah, For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth..”Tradition has it that King George II rose to his feet at this point. As the first notes of the triumphant Hallelujah Chorus rang out, the king rose. Royal protocol has always demanded that whenever the monarch stands, so does everyone in the monarch’s presence. Thus, the entire audience and orchestra stood too, initiating a tradition that has lasted more than two centuries. It is lost to history the exact reason why the King stood at that point, but the most popular explanations include:

  • As was and is the custom, one stands in the presence of royalty as a sign of respect. The Hallelujah chorus clearly places Christ as the King of Kings. In standing, King George II accepts that he too is subject to Lord of Lords.
  • He was so moved by the performance that he rose to his feet.
  • He arrived late to the performance, and the crowd rose when he finally made an appearance.
  • His gout acted up at that precise moment and he rose to relieve the discomfort.
  • After an hour of musical performance, he needed to stretch his legs. (Wikipedia, Messiah (Handel))

The chorus rings with the words proclaiming that an all-powerful God is King of the universe. And yet, the word of God was laid in a humble manger where he was first worshiped by shepherds. Philippians 2 tells us:

…[Christ] had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. [The Message]

Great love was the reason for God’s gift to mankind. The world was in need of saving. Only God’s love could do the saving. On Christmas morning (or Christmas eve) as you and the children in your lives are opening gifts try to remember that God’s gift is the reason we celebrate the birth of Jesus. And as you imagine that baby lying in the manger, let your heart sing the words, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!”

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