Day 6/12: Heaven Everywhere (Christmas songs Countdown)

Here is a cheery song which reminds us that Christmas brings a sense of hope: we truly can be the selfless people we were designed to be, as we turn our eyes from ourselves and become just a little kinder and more generous towards our fellow humans. There is a little bit of ‘Heaven Everywhere’ at Christmas. The song is from Francesca Batistelli’s 2012 ‘Christmas‘ album.

Heaven Everywhere

I hear the bells, they’re ringing loud and clear
You can’t help but love this time of year
It’s Christmastime, there’s something in the air
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere

Somehow there’s a little more of love
And maybe there’s a little less of us
Or maybe we’re just slightly more aware
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere

It’s the smile on a man who has finally found hope
It’s the tears of a mother whose child has come home
It’s the joy that we feel and the love that we share
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere

It’s funny how it takes a holiday
To show us how the world could truly change
If we all took the time to really care
There’d be a little more of heaven everywhere

It’s the smile on a man who has finally found hope
It’s the tears of a mother whose child has come home
It’s the joy that we feel and the love that we share
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
It’s the grace that we show to a world that needs hope
It’s giving our lives knowing they’re not our own
It’s the joy that we feel and the love that we share
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plain
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
Hallelujah, halleljuah

It’s the joy that we feel and the love that we share
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plain

Songwriters: Ben Glover / Francesca Battistelli

Heaven Everywhere lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Capitol Christian Music Group
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Day 5/12 – Salvation is Born (Christmas Songs Countdown)

This has to be one of the most beautiful (and unfortunately less well known) Christmas songs I know, which was published in 2005 by Sovereign Grace Music. I arranged it for a three or four part choir with soloist at some point during the Noughties, and we performed it at our Christmas services. (If you are interested, I could probably find the score.) Enjoy this message!

VERSE 1
Come let us worship, come let us adore
Jesus, Messiah, our Savior is born
Carol His glory and sing His sweet Name
Offer a life of thanksgiving and praise
VERSE 2
Join with the angels proclaiming to earth
Join with the shepherds in awe of His birth
Join all creation rejoicing this morn
The glory of God-become-man has been born

CHORUS
Come, let us adore Him
Jesus, the hope of the world
Come, worship before Him
Christ, the Messiah has come
Salvation is born

VERSE 3
Prophets foretold Him, the Promise of God
The hope of Salvation and light of the world
Born in a stable and born as a man
Born to fulfill God’s redeeming plan

© 2005 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP).

Salvation is Born by Greg Tulenko, sung by Shannon Harris from the album
“Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man”
© 2006 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI).

Day 3/12 – Noel! (Christmas Songs Countdown)

Continuing the countdown of 12 great songs for the twelve days before Christmas. Here is Chris Tomlin’s ‘Noel‘ sung by Lauren Daigle.

Love incarnate, love divine
Star and angels gave the sign
Bow to babe on bended knee
The Savior of humanity
Unto us a Child is born
He shall reign forevermore
Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel
Son of God and Son of man
There before the world began
Born to suffer, born to save
Born to raise us from the grave
Christ the everlasting Lord
He shall reign forevermore
Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel

Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel

Songwriters: Edmond Martin Cash / Matthew James Redman / Chrisopher D Tomlin
Noel lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group, Music Services, Inc

Day 2/12 – Candlelight Carol (Christmas Songs Countdown)

From Australian a cappella vocal group, Idea of North, on the album ‘This Christmas’ from (2012). The song is based on a carol by John Rutter (2001). Listen below or find more info here.

Candlelight Carol

Find him at Bethlehem laid in a manger
Christ our Redeemer asleep on the hay
Godhead incarnate and hope of salvation
A child with his mother that first Christmas Day

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Gloria! Gloria in excelsis deo
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born

Shepherds and wise men will kneel and adore him
Seraphim round him their vigil will keep
Nations proclaim him their Lord and their Saviour
But Mary will rock him and sing him to sleep

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Gloria! Gloria in excelsis deo
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born

Christmas: The arrival of Jesus, the Mighty Warrior

Today’s post is an excellent excerpt from at post at The Blazing Center, entitled “Jesus is for people who hate Christmas.”

“That, ladies and gentlemen, is the true meaning of Christmas. Wherever Jesus goes he brings the reign of God! Christmas is ultimately about the kingdom of God coming to this sad, broken, sin-marred world. Christmas is ultimately about a baby who would grow into a mighty warrior – a warrior who would crush Satan, undo sadness, defeat death, and ensure that it would be always Christmas and never winter.

Listen closely. For just a moment, tune out the Christmas music and television commercials. Do you hear that slow creaking and cracking noise? It’s the sound of Satan’s skull being slowly crushed underneath the foot of our conquering Savior.

Now we suffer. Now we experience cancer and migraines and anxiety and singleness and sadness and loneliness and poverty. Now we are afflicted by sin and Satan and our flesh. But not always.

Ultimately, Christmas should give the most hope to those who hate Christmas. Things won’t always be this way. As it says in 1 John 3:8, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

Those are such sweet words. Christmas is a celebration of war! Jesus himself has declared open season on Satan. He came to destroy all the works of the evil one. He came to wipe away tears and heal broken bodies and lift up despondent hearts and drive out fear and destroy loneliness.”

King of Heaven – come now!

paul-baloche_christmas-worship-vinyl-image_web-2At Christmas we remember the coming of the infant King of Heaven, Jesus Christ. God could have sent him as a fully grown man, and provided a grand entrance with enough pomp and circumstance to rival any contemporary celebrity. Yet God chose for him the womb of a virgin and a lowly cave/stable as his first resting place on the planet. Jesus shared the growing pains of our humanity so that he could be our perfect counsellor, Saviour and Lord. This King of Heaven is coming again and we probably should spend a lot more time praying for such an outcome, rather than sitting comfortably in the limitations of our mortality.

Paul Baloche’s KING OF HEAVEN (2012 – “The Same Love” album) is a song which captures something of the longing we (should) have for Jesus’ return. Here is his Christmas version of the song combined beautifully with Hark the Herald Angels Sing:

And here is the original song, performed with All Sons and Daughters: (don’t mind the 40 seconds of silliness at the start – the song officially gets going around 45 secs. I’m determined to included KING OF HEAVEN as one of our congregational songs next year.)

KING OF HEAVEN

Jesus, let Your kingdom come here
Let Your will be done here in us
Jesus, there is no one greater
You alone are Savior, show the world Your love

King of Heaven come down
King of Heaven come now
Let Your glory reign shining light the day
King of Heaven come
King of Heaven rise up
Who can stand against us?
You are strong to save in Your mighty name
King of Heaven come

We are children of Your mercy
Rescued for Your glory
We cry, Jesus set our hearts towards You
Every eye would see You lifted high

Ooh, ooh, ooh, King of Heaven come

Let’s Stop Underestimating Christmas

imag5856_1Today’s post comes from the Gospel Coalition and echoes much of what I spoke of a few days ago – about the great worth of remembering God’s great works at Christmas time. I am currently reading Keller’s book mentioned below, titled “Hidden Christmas” – which is surprising me more and more, in a good way, with each passing chapter. It would make a great gift this Christmas.

“Christmastime is here. For some of you, that sentence evokes nostalgia and joy. Others of you, not so much. Yet one thing many of us share in common this time of year is hearing the classic readings from the Gospels (if not in church then from Linus). And all the while, we can become so familiar with the incarnation that we end up domesticating it.

Christmas is familiar, but it isn’t tame. As Tim Keller puts it in his new book, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ (Viking), “Christmas is both more wondrous and more threatening than we imagine.” Working from the writings of Matthew, Luke, and John, he illumines the modern import of the ancient story.

I asked Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and vice president of TGC, why neither the god of moralism nor the god of relativism would’ve bothered with Christmas, how unbelievers try to “name” Jesus, and more. (And yes, this brief book would make an excellent Christmas present.)

In the book I say that about the theme of “light in the darkness” that’s so prominent not only in the biblical understanding of Christ’s birth (Isa. 9:2Matt. 4:16) but also in most contemporary celebrations of Christmas. The Bible doesn’t say “from the world a light has dawned” but “upon the world a light has dawned.” The point is that the world is a dark place that needs salvation to come from outside of it. This means the end of cheery statements like, “If we all pull together, we can make the world a better place.” No, we can’t. We don’t have what it takes.

The Bible doesn’t say ‘from the world a light has dawned’ but ‘upon the world a light has dawned.’ The world is a dark place that needs salvation to come from outside of it.

This is a clear-eyed, realistic approach to our problems. It’s not rah-rah optimism. Yet it’s not pessimistic either, because there ishope, and a certainty that God will eventually destroy all evil.

Why is it foolish to rush past the genealogy at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel? 

Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus does a lot of work. First, it roots Jesus in history. The gospel doesn’t begin “once upon a time.” Christ isn’t a legend; he was a flesh-and-blood human being in space and time. Second, the genealogy includes women who were racial and cultural “outsiders” (Rahab and Ruth) as well as involved in incest, adultery, and prostitution (Tamar, “Uriah’s wife,” and Rahab).

Even the ‘begats’ of the Bible drip with God’s mercy.

In ancient and less individualistic times, one’s genealogy was like one’s résumé. Like today’s résumés, many things were usually expunged to make it look better to the reader. Women were seldom put in ancient genealogies at all, let alone women who reminded readers of the sordid sins and corruption of ancestors such as Judah and David. All of these figures would have been disowned or expunged from a normal genealogy, but here they are not. They are all—male and female, king and prostitute, Jew and Gentile—equally part of Jesus’s family. So even the “begats” of the Bible drip with God’s mercy.

Neither the god of moralism nor the god of relativism would have bothered with Christmas, you observe. Why not?

Moralism is essentially the idea that you can save yourself through your good works. And this makes Christmas unnecessary. Why would God need to become human in order to live and die in our place if we can fulfill the requirements of righteousness ourselves? Relativism is essentially the idea that no one is really “lost,” that everyone should live by their own lights and determine right and wrong for themselves. The “all-accepting god of love” many modern people believe in would never have bothered with the incarnation. Such a god would have found it completely unnecessary.

The ‘all-accepting god of love’ many moderns believe in would never have bothered with the incarnation. Such a god would have found it completely unnecessary.

Why was the naming of baby Jesus significant? 

All parents have the right to name their own child. It’s a sign of their authority over the child, and the power they have over how the child will live and who the child will become. This was even truer in ancient patriarchal societies than it is now. But the angel doesn’t allow Joseph or Mary to name Jesus. One reason is that Jesus was the first child ever born who was far older than his parents! The other is that, even though Jesus submitted to his human parents authority during his childhood (Luke 2:51), they weren’t ultimately his master. He was their master. By refusing to let Mary and Joseph name their son, the angel was essentially saying something like this: “If Jesus is in your life, you’re not his manager—he’s your manager. You don’t name him or tell him who he is—he’s come to tell you who you are.”

What can we learn about the difference between closed-minded doubt and open-minded doubt from contrasting Zechariah and Mary in Luke 1?

When the angel Gabriel appeared and told Zechariah he would have a son, Zechariah expressed doubts about how this could come to such an elderly couple (Luke 1:18)—and he was disciplined for his doubt (Luke 1:20). When Gabriel appears and tells Mary she will have a son, she expresses doubts to the same angel in almost the same words—wondering how this could come to a virgin (Luke 1:34). Yet there’s no word of rebuke, only a further explanation. Why the difference? The only real possibility is that the inner motivations and dynamics of Zechariah’s and Mary’s doubts were different. There’s a kind of doubt that really is seeking more information—that “wants” to believe if it’s possible. There’s also a kind of doubt that really is looking for a way out, that doesn’t want to believe or submit, that’s looking for a way to keep control of one’s own life.

This is a wonderfully nuanced approach to doubt. The Bible doesn’t view doubts as always rebellious, nor does it encourage people to live in doubt perpetually. That’s why we’re told to “be merciful to those who doubt” (Jude 1:22).”

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/tim-keller-wants-you-to-stop-underestimating-christmas