Our Conquering

Over the Sundays of Advent this year, we’re thinking about the Christmas story.  This is part 3, and you can read parts 1 and 2 here.


Three months after Mary visited Elizabeth, John was born, and Zechariah got his voice back.  Picture that house in those first few months – baby John crying at the top of his lungs, Dad shouting and praising and laughing, Mum sleepless and probably wondering where that peace and quiet went!


And six months later, it was time for another birth.  People took commitment very seriously in those days and once you were promised to someone in marriage, you were virtually part of their family, so Mary had gone to Bethlehem with Joseph.  It was Joseph’s hometown and they needed to register for the census, which the government was taking.  All those years ago, Micah the prophet had talked about Bethlehem being the birthplace of the Messiah (Micah 5:2-4).  Now here they were in Bethlehem, when the time came for Mary’s baby to be born.  That must have filled her with wonder all over again.


The news was told to some shepherds outside the town.  If you can imagine a class system, shepherds would be the lowest of the low, and yet the angel of the LORD appeared to them.  “Do not be afraid,” he said.  “I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all the people” (Luke 2:10).


Soon a whole company joined the angel and the sky was filled with praises to God!  Then the angels left the shepherds to spring into action, but what would have happened if they’d all looked up at the sky, laughed nervously, shook their heads and said:  “Can it be true?  What would a Saviour want with scum like us?  We’re not sure about this; let’s not go to Bethlehem”?  If they’d let fear stop them, what a miserable night it would have been – no hurrying to Bethlehem; no finding Jesus in the manger; no glorifying and praising God; no bubbling over with joy and telling everyone they came into contact with …  Just another night watching their sheep.  As the years went on, the encounter with the angels might just have seemed like a distant dream.


Have you had good news lately that you’re afraid to accept?  In every area of our life, we’ve got to conquer fear before we can live in faith.  If you’ve had good news, can I encourage you to embrace it?  To celebrate it?  To live it?


A Sunday Singsong

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the

Lord” – Colossians 3:16 (KJV)

This verse really surprised me when I read it just now in the old King James Version.  The word-order is different from what I’m used to, and it seems to change the emphasis.  If I was reading a modern version, it would tell me to let Christ’s Word live in me richly as I sang, keeping the Word and the singing separate, as people tend to in lots of churches, but this older version talks about teaching in songs and hymns.  It also talks about singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord.  I wrote a post recently about what makes grace so amazing, but I was talking there about God’s grace towards us.  I’d never thought that we could have grace towards God!  But we can, so sing with feelings of pleasure in your heart towards Him.

As well as being a way of expressing our hearts to God, songs and hymns can teach us a lot.  I must confess I don’t much like singing hymns.  All you tend to hear is the organ belting out the tune, and I prefer to be able to hear the people next to me singing the words.  Plus, lots of hymns have so many verses!  I like the ones that remind me of the church where I became a Christian:

“I know not why God’s wondrous grace

“To me has been made known” (that’s a nice cheery one), or:

“I serve a risen Saviour,

“He’s in the world today”, but the hymns I like best are those where the hymn-writers have managed to put to music the good news of what Jesus did for us.  “Rejoice, the Lord is King” is a good-news hymn.  (I sang that for the first time in a communion service at the hospital and loved the words so much that when it finished, I turned to the person next to me and commented on it.)  There are many others – “To God be the Glory”, “How Great Thou Art”, “Amazing Grace” etc … not forgetting my favourites – “There is a Fountain” and “Man of Sorrows”.


Did any of those have you singing along?  I had fun finding them on YouTube.


Have any hymns or songs taught you something about God?  Which ones are special to you?