All Hail Our Redeemer
by Seattle ALC
Now Hail We Our Redeemer
The shepherds were expecting to spend another ordinary night watching their sheep in the fields surrounding Bethlehem. God’s plan called of an extraordinary happening to break the silence of that certain night. He had appointed the time and He had appointed the place for the Savior’s birth, and these shepherds were to be among the first to know.
Long years before, the Spirit had moved the Patriarch Jacob to behold the days when God would fulfil the promise upon which rested the hope of His people. Prophetically Jacob spoke to his son Judah: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of his people be.” (Gen. 49: 10) Although God’s chosen people were to know the oppression of foreign rule, this was to be a sign that the time of the Messiah was at hand.
In the fulfilment of His plan, God sent His angel to Nazareth to Virgin Mary and to Joseph, to whom she was espoused. Now although they lived in Nazareth, it was ordained of God that the Saviour’s birth would take place in Bethlehem as we read in Micah 5:2 : “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose going forth have been from old, from everlasting.”
God is always in control. It is written in Scripture: “By me kings reign, princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” (Proverbs 8: 15-16) The ruler Caesar Augustus decreed that everyone in the Roman empire should be taxed, and this first occurred when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. (Luke 2:1-2) This was the time pre-determined by God for the Saviour’s birth. In this decree, every citizen was required to return to his own city for enrollment Joseph obeyed, and he took Mary and they went to Bethlehem because he was of the house and lineage of Davis. There Jesus was born. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and lain in a manger because there was no room in the inn.
No human herald announced the sacred event. The angel of the Lord was sent to bring the message to the shepherds. When this angel, and the multitude of other angels who had also appeared, had gone away again into heaven, the shepherds said on to another: “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass which the Lord has made known unto us. And they went with haste and found Mary, Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.” (Luke 2: 15-16)
Although we celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th each year, we do not lay claim to that date as the actual birth of our Lord. As Christians, Christmas is not alone a celebration of the time when the Word was made incarnate, when Jesus came veiled in flesh. Our joy is two-fold for we also celebrate our personal salvation in Jesus Who came to save us from our sins. Herein lie the true joys of Christmas.
Let not the world and its customs and practices deprive us of this deep and abiding joy. May our visit to the manger cause us to return, glorifying and praising God for all the things we have heard and seen.
“NOW HAIL WE OUR REDEEMER, ETERNAL SON OF GOD BORN IN THE FLESH TO SAVE US, AND CLEANSE US IN THY BLOOD. OH JESUS, GRANT US MERCY, AND GRACE ON US BESTOE, TO WALK IN THINE OWN GUIDANCE, THY SAVING TRUTH TO KNOW.” (St. Ambrose)
Greetings to all of you:
We can find not better way to express our Christmas wishes than in the words of the ancient apostolic greeting found in many of the New Testament epistles:
“GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD, OUR FATHER AND THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.”
No Christmas gift is greater than God’s boundless grace and His peace which passes all understanding. May they remain the center of the christian’s Christmas.
From the archives of the late Pastor Alvin Holmgren December 1984
Submitted by Pastor Stan
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