Come, sing of His glory: four devotionals dwelling on the songs in the first two chapters of Luke. As we enter advent, we invite you to step into the shoes of those who welcomed Jesus at His first coming, as we anticipate His coming again. Our prayer is that as you read these, you will be more assured of God’s glory and His grace. Would these ancient words echo in your hearts and on your lips throughout this season.
Read Luke 1:1-56.
‘And Mary said, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”’
Mary’s words overflow with exaltation: she has been chosen by the Lord to bear His Son; the Son of the Most High. In a moment of ecstatic excitement, Mary and Elizabeth rejoice in the news they have heard, the promises they have received – their joy is overflowing and infectious.
Then, in a movement away from the narrative into a quiet reflection, Mary begins to sing. She immediately lifts her eyes to the Lord, magnifying Him. She proclaims what He has done, in choosing her to be the mother of the Messiah – certainly ‘the Mighty One has done great things for’ her. This work of the Lord is consistent with His saving action from generation to generation: Jesus’ birth will be the culmination of them all. Mary traces His mercy throughout the ages, recalling the Lord’s promise to Abraham and his descendants. Our God is faithful and unchanging!
In the face of unbelievable news, Mary shows great faith by reminding herself of who God is and what He has done. Yet there is weakness in her; the angel had reassured her earlier, ‘do not be afraid.’ Clearly, she was terrified. You can imagine her wavering tone slowly steadying as the Spirit assured her of these truths. As Charles Spurgeon put it, her ‘faith mounts to full assurance, her full assurance bursts forth in a torrent of sacred praise.’
Though there is much to make her doubt – the disgrace of her premartial pregnancy, the uncertainty of the next nine months – she decides to trust the Lord. She delights at the privilege it is to carry the Messiah as a humble, young woman. For these words come from the lips of one who is weak: a teenage girl asking, ‘who am I that the Lord might use me?’
Mary sings out of the overflow of her soul rejoicing that she has a Saviour. Not because the Lord is forgetful of His mighty works nor in need of a reminder of His merciful nature but because there is no other worthy response. So she hails the incarnate God, the long-expected Messiah.
Her prayer is a song of faith: as yet there was no Messiah born. But she trusted the angel’s word and her heart filled with blessing and her lips exalted His name.
Will Mary sing alone? Not if we take Christ as our own, humbly accepting Him as our Saviour as Mary first did.
When we take these words upon our lips and join this song of exaltation, we awaken our weary souls to the truth of Jesus’ saving life, death and resurrection. These words are a gift, let us use them to praise Him. As we enter advent, let us share the same faith that Mary had – trusting God’s promise and patiently awaiting Christ’s coming.
So, look to Jesus. He is mighty to save. He invites us, humble and lowly as we are, into His mission. Recall Colossians 1:27 as you declare ‘the glorious riches of this mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ to all this advent.
Help me to pray these words that Mary first sang, ‘my soul glorifies the Lord and my soul rejoices in God my Saviour.’ You are worthy of all exaltation and praise. Holy is Your name. I look to You, the Mighty One and know that I can trust You. I praise You for Your great mercy, for how You remember Your people and are mindful of the humble and the hungry You fill with good things.
By your Spirit, I humble myself to be Your servant.
In Your Son’s holy name.
Read Luke 1:57-80.
Do you ever have those days when you are home alone and don’t speak to anyone for a couple of hours, and when you eventually do, it feels weird to hear your voice out loud?
Now imagine it’s been 9 months since you last spoke a word… what would your first words be?
For Zechariah, there was no hesitation at the moment his ‘tongue was set free’ – he burst out in praise of God. Just before his wife, Elizabeth, fell pregnant, God’s angel had silenced Zechariah because he doubted the promise of a child. But then, the child is born and Zechariah is filled with confidence that God’s promise was, and is, true:
That Zechariah’s child is to be named John and he will prepare people for an even greater promise: the coming of the Lord. Zechariah’s doubt gives way to an outburst of praise, not just for the identity of his son but for the identity of another…
‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
Because He has come to His people and redeemed them (…)
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him,
To give His people the knowledge of salvation
Through the forgiveness of their sins,
Because of the tender mercy of our God,
By which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
To shine on those living in darkness
And in the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the path of peace.’
(Luke 2:68, 76-79)
It’s a beautiful description of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is tender in mercy, and we see this most fully in the light of Christ – promised to those living in darkness and death’s shadow, to lead them through to salvation, forgiveness, and peace.
Zechariah waited nine months for his assurance of this promise. The Jews had been waiting even longer… centuries had passed since God last spoke of deliverance through His prophets. Their waiting could finally turn to rejoicing and praise because the Most High was coming and with Him, salvation.
We have now seen the full light of God’s salvation plan in Christ’s coming, death, and resurrection. Advent is our time to glory in this perspective and confidently rejoice in God’s promise to redeem His people. And advent is also our time to wait. We are waiting for the day that the risen Son will come again and lead us to our final resting place of peace with Him forever. Our world is still dark, and death is still a reality, but there is a beautiful promise to cling to and rejoice in as we wait for dawn.
God of tender mercy,
Praise belongs to Your name and Your way of salvation in Christ. Thank you that You have not left us in darkness but came to bring light and life to this world. Forgive our sins and keep us assured of Jesus Christ who guides our feet in the path of your peace.
As we wait for the dawn of Christ’s return, show us during this Advent the reasons to rejoice in Your salvation promise.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Read Luke 2:8-20.
Picture the scene. Imagine you’re one of the shepherds. Before your very eyes, you see a multitude of heavenly hosts on the hills of Bethlehem praising God as they sing, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests.’
Goosebumps. In the words of Jake Peralta, ‘chills, literal chills.’
The angels are singing glory to God because Immanuel, God with us, had been born. They have seen this and yet amazingly we read this about the angels in 1 Peter 1:12: ‘It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.’
They long to see what we have in Christ! Forgiveness and adoption into His family. The angels marvel at how we can call Christ our brother and God our Abba Father. So, Glory to God in the highest!
You may be feeling weary, burdened, stressed or scared in this winter season full of exams amidst a cost-of-living crisis. You may feel battered and bruised by the world, the flesh, and the devil. So how good is it that we can lift our eyes to God? Gaze at Him and give Him glory.
Let’s sing praise to His name because He has brought peace to the people He favours. And as Christians, we are the ones He favours! He favours those who have put their trust in Jesus. So we have that peace, peace between us and God.
Reconciliation. Assured for us by the Prince of Peace.
What a glorious peace! Peace that gives rest to our restless hearts. Peace that is a balm to our weary souls.
So, whether you’re filled with excitement for Christmas, whether you’re dreading it or whether you’re going to arrive there at the end of your tether. Wherever you’re at, let’s join with the angels singing, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests.’
All of heaven roars Your name. Thank you, Abba Father, for revealing Your glory to us through Christ. Help us this Advent to lift our eyes to You, to gaze at Your glory! And thank you Christ for the peace You have brought us. May we dwell and rest in that peace with joy. And help us to go out and tell of others of the peace that they can have, in You, this Christmas.
We pray this in the beautiful name of Jesus.
Read Luke 2:21-35.
Think about the news headlines you may have read today. Politicians abusing their power? Media outlets accused of spreading fake news? Reports of violence and conflict?
In his song, Waiting on the World to Change, John Mayer sang, ‘It’s hard to beat the system / When we’re standing at a distance / So we keep on waiting / Waiting on the world to change’
Mayer looks at a world characterised corruption, misinformation and war, and he despairs. Perhaps that’s a feeling you can identify with; how else could you respond to a world as broken as this one? What else is there to do but wait around and hope the next generation does better than those that came before?
Simeon was another singer who could identify with this experience. Luke tells us he was ‘waiting for the consolation of Israel’ (Luke 2:25). Simeon lived in Jerusalem at a time of real instability; Israel was living under Roman rule, and hopelessness abounded. What could Simeon do but simply wait around for the world to change?
Simeon’s waiting was not in vain. It’s easy, when faced with the brokenness of our world, to cling to a vague, unsubstantiated hope; maybe after the next election things will begin to get better. It’s a hope that often disappoints. Simeon hopes in something better, a promise from God. Luke writes that ‘it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.’ (Luke 2:26).
The hope that Simeon was clinging to was not, like Mayer, to see a new generation in charge, but to see ‘the Lord’s Christ’; the one God would send to make wrongs right. When Simeon saw Jesus, he saw the fulfilment of this promise, and was able to sing out in praise, ‘my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples’ (Luke 2:30-31).
When we see Jesus, we see God’s end to corruption, lies and war.
Christmas makes the end of brokenness possible, and the promise of Jesus’ return gives us a solid hope to cling to as we wait for the consolation of our world. Let’s rest in this promise together this Christmas, as we too wait in confidence for the world to change when Christ returns.
God of comfort,
Thank you that you have not left us in the dark, waiting on a change that may or may not come. Thank you that you have revealed to us your plan; salvation for all nations in Jesus. Help us to trust in this promise, that one day we will see the world made right, when Jesus comes again. We wait for him.
These four blogs were written by members of UCCF staff (top to bottom): Kitty Hardyman (Communications Officer), Naomi Sherwood (South East CU Staff Worker) Matthew Morrison (Scotland CU Staff Worker) and Connor Reid (Wales CU Staff Worker).
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