Advent Devotional

December 21: The Sky Became a Chorus

Today, we come to the sixth track of our new Advent/Christmas album, which is an original song written and sung by our own Carson Chapman …

Long-Awaited / You Arrived by Providence

Tonight the sky was like almost any other night
And we shepherds south of Jerusalem went out
keeping watch of our flocks nearby

Yes, tonight the sky was like almost any other night
When out of nowhere, an angel of the Lord appeared there
And to us few implored: “Fear not, Fear not, Fear not!”

For tonight in David’s town the Word become flesh, come down; a savior
And then the sky became a chorus and they sang:

“Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men”
And we realized then, that the thing we’d been waiting for was happening

O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord
-Lyrics and Music: Carson Chapman

Scripture Reading

LUKE 2:8-20

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Devotional: Carson Chapman

For me, and for many of us I imagine, the Christmas story can get conflated with the observance of the Christmas season itself. And the typical Christmas season can become so familiar, almost second-nature, that the Advent period (and specifically the week leading up to Christmas) ends up a little formulaic. It’s almost like the tire tracks of the previous year’s trip through December are still there on the ground, and we drive over the same tracks because they are well-worn and easy to find.

The challenge then is to uncouple the trappings of the season from the wonder of the story. It’s a story we rightly rehearse each year, but just because I’ve heard it a thousand times doesn’t make it any less spectacular. It’s the true story of the true light, which gives light to everyone, coming into the world (John 1:9). And in Luke chapter 2, the annunciation of that arrival comes in a curious way.

In one regard, an announcement made to shepherds makes a lot of sense. Alastair Roberts notes that shepherds “dominate the Old Testament”, and God had been involving them in His redemptive plan for millennia. Joseph was a shepherd (Genesis 37:2) just as his mother Rachel had been a shepherdess when she had met Jacob (Genesis 29:9). Moses was keeping Jethro’s flock when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a burning bush (Exodus 3:1), and David was tending sheep when his father Jesse sent for him (1 Samuel 16:11). Shepherds are woven into the fabric of redemptive history.

But in another sense, the announcement of Jesus’ birth to shepherds is pretty bizarre—a notion that our familiarity with the story can obscure. We are told that the most urgent news in the history of the world was delivered not to kings or queens, governors or magistrates, priests or mystics. It came instead to a few nameless laborers in a field, and it might have been the most incredible display to ever grace the sky: a “multitude of the heavenly host praising God” (v. 13). Echoing the manner in which the child King had himself arrived, it was the wondrous to the simple, the epic to the commonplace, the colossal to the minute. For those few shepherds that night, what a feeling of wonder there must have been.

This song is about that feeling. It’s written from the shepherds’ perspective, recounting the events of the evening, perhaps upon their return from Bethlehem (v. 20). The song concludes with the refrain of the old hymn Adeste Fideles, urging us to take part in a fitting response of unexpected joy: “Come let us adore Him!”

We don’t ever hear from these shepherds again, in Luke or anywhere else in the New Testament—they have played their part, and they have exited the narrative. The true and perfect Shepherd, the last one the world would ever need, had arrived. It’s good news, and it’s the same good news as last Christmas and all the ones that came before it. As we recount the story of the incarnation once more this year, may we never cease to be amazed by the beauty of God’s intervention. Maybe instead we can sit for a while with the shepherds in wonder, and maybe that’s a suitable response.

Coloring Sheet: Megan Willin

Members in our church have created coloring pages, which are designed for all ages and artistic ability, as a way to help you further engage with the lyrics and music. We invite you to slow down and meditate on the beauty and depth of this Advent season.

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[ Previous Devotionals ]

Dec. 17, Dec. 15, Dec. 10, Dec. 8, Dec. 3Dec. 1