ADVENT 2021 DEVOTIONAL
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
(Luke 2:10-14, New International Version)
Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.
(“Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” by Charles Wesley)
Today’s Reading: Luke 2
In Luke 2, the angels don’t merely announce the birth of Jesus. They trumpet it!
The Book of Psalms shows us how, like the angels in Luke 2, people expressed themselves musically in Old Testament times. They sang worship songs to God. They played instruments and danced in worship.
In Psalm 98:1 (NIV), the Psalmist says, “Sing to the LORD a new song.” Participation is not limited to professional musicians; everyone is invited to praise God through music.
With the invitation to “Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!” (Psalm 150:3, English Standard Version), you can imagine a dynamic variety of musical expressions. The horn’s blast pierced the air, calling others far and wide to join a chorus of worship. The soothing lullabies of the harp touched the tender places of the human heart. Cradled in the arm of an amateur, the lyre provided a casual tune for friends, family and neighbors.
The Psalms also mention drums, tambourines and dancing, which reveals that rhythm is just as valuable as melody and, more importantly, that God designed people — in His image — to express their worship audibly, creatively and joyfully.
As the angel declared to the shepherds, Jesus’ arrival is good news!
After years of waiting for the Messiah to come, God fulfilled His promise, and it was “good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” You are part of “all the people.” When the angels announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, they were announcing it to you as well. What joy! This is what you’ve been waiting for — Jesus, God with us, the longing of every human heart.
As you contemplate the lyrics to today’s hymn, uncurl your hands, and unclench your jaw. Exhale your worries and your striving and allow God’s love to envelop you. Try dusting off an old instrument. Press your fingers into keys or strings and let the sound wash over you. Warm up your vocal cords and feel the reverberations in your chest as you sing.
Waking up your human expression can revive the way God designed you to worship Him. With a genuine heart, praise God for His faithfulness to keep His promises. Thank Him that the longings of your heart can be satisfied in Jesus.
Keri Armentrout is the author of “Like Jesus: Following God in the Digital Age.” She and her husband, Karl, have served with the campus ministry of Cru® for 20 years.
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