The First Christmas Carol High and Low

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!”

Luke 2:13-14
Nativity Scene | Imperial Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew, Frankfurt, Germany | December 2021

We traveled recently. Through that experience we were very high – 41,000 feet, if I recall correctly. And 20 feet or more underground (traveling through the tunnel from Concourse A-B at Chicago O’Hare airport). In every place, both high and low we counted on God’s providential care and gracious presence. From keeping the plane in the air to sustaining the tunnel supports and moving sidewalks along the way. God is everywhere, and in all situations, he desires that we enjoy his favor and honor him as our greatest good in life.

The first Christmas carol reflects this span of God’s presence and glory. “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace…”

Beyond the long span of God’s presence and the blessing of his omnipresence, is the calling for high and low to give God the glory. From kings and lords, to demons and Satan himself, properly comes praise and glory to God.

This is also referenced elsewhere in the New Testament:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11

It ought to make no difference when we see a high and mighty person kneeling in prayer or serving others in an attitude of humility. But it does for me. When I see a person of power or financial means honoring Jesus, it goes a long way toward showing just how high and worthy he is.

Equally true, however, is that God honors the praises of the lowly. Not only do the high and mighty properly praise God, but God shows up and visits the lowly shepherds with the Good News of the Savior’s birth. Some want to make the shepherds special, citing the likely possibility that they tended sheep some of which would be sacrificed in the temple. But they were still just shepherds. They had no special standing. Theirs was a menial task.

But here in this moment, as angels praise God, lowly shepherds hear the angel chorus. And the Good News: God’s glory reaches to the highest heights. And he who is mighty has come to earth and invited the lowliest to receive his gift of salvation.

Christmas Joy!

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