Angels, from the Realms of Glory- a Christmas devotional for Jan. 3, 2018

During the Twelve Days of Christmas, just as in the Advent season, I am going to reflect on a hymn or carol daily as part of my spiritual practices. I am not sure where all these reflections will take me, but in conversation with my spiritual director, I am going to leave room for both “the head stuff” and “the heart stuff.” Some days might be more of one or another. I invite you to join me, as together we make space to listen, and be present, to sense what God might be up to. 

Merry Tenth Day of Christmas! As the tenth day comes to a close, after a day of work, meetings, help digging out a car from the snow, and great conversations. I am taking some time to unwind by the light of our Christmas tree. For some reason, the carol, “Angels from the Realms of Glory” is playing in my head.

Angels, from the realms of glory, wing your flight o’er all the earth;
once you sang creation’s story, now proclaim Messiah’s birth:
Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the newborn king.

“Once you sang creation’s story…” The Baptism of Our Lord will be remembered in worship this weekend, and one of the readings for the day comes from Genesis 1, the story of creation and God moving over the waters. That comes to mind as I think about the Word of God and creation, but also the Word made Flesh. It also comes to mind, as I was reminded today that even though it may not snow, you could still find yourself with snow drifts in your driveway here if the wind is blowing. Thanks for the wake-up call winter.

Shepherds, in the fields abiding, watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing, yonder shines the infant light.
Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the newborn king.

Grandma and Grandpa’s lit church.

“God with us is now residing…” That’s the message of the incarnation. That’s the hope of Advent, and God with us, Emmanuel. This is part of the story of Christmas. And it’s a story like the angels, shepherds, and sages that we are called to hear, see, and experience. It’s also one we are called to share.

It reminds me of this little light up church. It’s been a Christmas decoration in my family years. When I was growing up, it was always one of my favorites at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Now, it warms up the room with its glow next to the couch on a cold and quiet winter evening like tonight. As the light glows, I am reminded again that “God with us is now residing.”

Sages, leave your contemplations, brighter visions beam afar;
seek the great desire of nations, you have seen his natal star.
Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the newborn king.

Do you ever get bogged down in the thinking, wondering, questions, or ideas to the point where you don’t move on to acting, trying something or experimenting? That always comes to mind as I think about this verse. “Sages leave your contemplations…” Are we prepared to follow that sign, call, or mystery in the distance?

All creation, join in praising God, the Father, Spirit, Son,
evermore your voices raising to the eternal Three in One.
Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the newborn king. 

I love this carol because of the way it touches on the different characters of the story- angels, shepherds, and sages. But I also love the way it then broadens it to “all creation,” including us. We’re all a part of this. We’re all a part of telling, sharing, or singing God’s story. We all join in praising God. And We all come and worship Christ, the newborn king.

So, for another couple of days anyway, Merry Christmas!


Credit/Reference: James Montgomery, Henry T. Smart, Salisbury Hymn Book (1857); found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 275.

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