Glad Tidings of Great Joy

ChristmasIt is highly likely that the last thing you want this morning is a Christmas sermon, so in the spirit of Christmas cheer, I’ll keep this as brief as possible.

Most of us, religious or not, probably know by heart the St. Luke, Chapter 2 (King James Version) of the Christmas Story. I memorized it as a young child and that translation is still my favorite for Christmas reading.

Do you remember this part, “And suddenly there were with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men’”?

I thought you did.  Did you know, though, that there are some translation and punctuation issues that once fixed, deepen the Christmas message?

First, some background; when Luke wrote his Gospel, there were no punctuation marks in the Greek Language.  Heck, there were only capital letters and there was no spacing between the words. IMAGINETRANSLATINGTHISSENTENCEINTOANOTHERLANGUAGEWHICHISWHATBIBLETRANSLATORSDOSOTHATWECANREADGODSMESSAGEINENGLISH

Anyway, we have a much better handle on ancient Greek grammar these days than King James’ team did; and a better translation reads; “Suddenly a great multitude of the heavenly host joined the angel saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest; and on earth, peace to mankind; on whom His favor rests.’”

Shazaam! Do you see it? Wow!  In this one declaration, the angels proclaim that the human race is special above all creation. These mighty warriors and messengers, who live, worship and work daily in the physical presence of almighty God, announced that out of all the starry host, out of all the worlds and creatures and beauty and majesty that exists in the universe, it is we, mortal human flesh, who are the special recipients of His Grace.

How many stars fill the skies? How many birds fly? How many fish swim beneath the ocean waves? How many tiny microbes wrestle and play and thrive beyond the naked eye? This world is a complex, diverse, amazing masterpiece, yet out of all the species in heaven and on the earth, it is we, the human race, who are the special objects of his affection.  He made this universe as a gift for us. Then He made us. We treated it all, including Him, with utter contempt. And still He loves us.

It’s easy to imagine a love that is requited, but a love that keeps going despite rejection upon rejection? Who ever heard of such a thing?  “Unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. And His name shall be called, Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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