by Kathy Lay
This Week's Verse
Luke 1:17, "He will herald God's arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics—he'll get the people ready for God." (MSG)
Hark the Herald Angels Sing! “Hark, it's Harold...Harold's singing what?” Each year when the praise band dusts off the Christmas songs, some variation of the joke appears: “Hey, who's Harold, anyway?” It's a hoot.
(Warning: English nerd alert!) Okay, let's break it down. If I remember my Shakespeare correctly, hark means “Pay attention, everybody!” or “Hey, listen up!” According to Webster, herald as a verb means to “give tidings or announce” and in noun form, refers to the one doing the announcing. So a translation of the title of the oft sung Christmas hymn could be, “Hey Everybody! Shut Up and Listen to the News the Angels Are Proclaiming With Song!” (Um, I like the original better.) :-)
This week's verse, instead of heralding the birth of our Savior, however, is actually heralding a herald of our Savior—John the Baptist.
One of my favorite things about Christmas as a child was getting together and playing with cousins we didn't get to see very often. Today, it's one of my kids' favorite parts about Christmas too. So that's why I love reading about when John got together with his cousin, Jesus, for the very first time. Even while they were both still inside their mothers' wombs, their meeting was so joyous that John actually leaped inside Elizabeth's tummy!
Luke 1:39-45 records the blessed occasion: “A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, 'God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.'”(NLT)
John was heralding Christ even before either of them was born! And with such exuberance that his mother had no doubt as to just Who Mary was carrying into her house and into a world that needed, and still needs Him so desperately.
Don't you want to herald Christ as beautifully as the angel chorus? Don't you want to herald Christ as joyfully and enthusiastically as prenatal John, and as passionately and unapologetically as adult John? Let us usher in our King so that those around us know, without a doubt just Who it is we're celebrating. After all, he was Born to give us “second birth. Hark! The herald angels sing, 'Glory to the newborn King!'"
Lord, thank you for showing us in Your Word that wonderful celebration among cousins, when John the Baptist first heralded the greatness of our Lord. Help us in our actions and especially in our Christmas celebrations to herald Jesus in a way that truly shows Him to others and even lays the groundwork for “second births.” In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Application: Consider how you are heralding the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Are your preparations so laced with joy that your spirit is contagious? Be purposeful and vigilant about your herald.
Psalm 85:13, “Righteousness goes as a herald before him, preparing the way for his steps.” (NLT)
Daniel 3:4, “Then a herald shouted out, “People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command!” (NLT)
2 Timothy 1:11, “And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.” (NIV)