Christmas Eve Sermon on Psalm 98:1
Text: Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
What is your favorite Christmas song? I’m sure that, if I were to poll the congregation, there would be many different answers. I did some research on the internet to find out what is the most popular Christmas song. From what I found, it seems that there are three that top the list. They are “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby, “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole, and “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey. You have to go a way down the list to find religious songs. The most popular religious Christmas song was “Joy To The World.” This evening, as we gather together to celebrate the gift of love that God sent to the world in his Son, we will spend a great deal of time talking about songs, specifically the four songs that were recorded by Luke in the first two chapters of his gospel. As we spend this time, talking about singing, may we be encouraged by the psalmist’s words in the first verse of Psalm 98: “Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.”
We note the fact that we are encouraged to sing a “new song.” If there is a new song that we are to sing, there must have been an old song that we no longer sing. What is that “old song?” The old song isn’t a song that would make you feel good or lift your spirits. It probably could best be described as a dirge. A dirge is a song of grief or lamentation. It is a slow, solemn, mournful piece of music. Why would it have been a proper type of music for us to sing? The reason for singing a dirge is the fact that we are sinners. We come into this world as sinners. We see the effects of our sinfulness every day or our lives. For example, as the days have drawn closer to Christmas, how has your patience level been? If you ventured out to do some shopping, was it easy to be patient with the occasional slow checkout line? If you needed to be someplace, how patient were you with the other drivers that you were sharing the road with? If you have little children in the house, is it easy to be patient with them as they get more and more excited about Christmas? This is just one area of life where we have failed to live as God would have us live. Add in all of the other areas of our lives where we have failed to live up to God’s perfect standards and you can see why a dirge would be a proper type of song to sing. This is especially true, because a dirge is usually sing at a funeral. God tells us in his Word that the “wages of sin is death.” We deserve to be eternally separated from our God for all eternity in the punishment of hell. Truth be told, when we are reminded of this, we probably don’t feel much like singing, at all.
However, we are encouraged to sing “a new song.” The psalmist gives us the reason that we can sing a new song. He says, “His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.” We sing because God has worked out our salvation. This really is what Christmas is all about. It isn’t just the story of a young woman and her husband being forced to travel to another city while she was nine months pregnant. It isn’t that feeling of pity that we have as she gives birth to her baby in a place where animals were housed. Rather, this is God’s own Son who came to the earth to be our Savior. We celebrate because God’s plan of salvation, which he announced to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, was brought to fulfillment. We know that the little baby born in Bethlehem would grow up and serve as our Substitute. First of all, he would live the perfect life that we never could live. Jesus never once strayed from his Father’s will. We also know that Jesus’ path would lead him to a place of pain and suffering as he died on the cross. Jesus was punished in our place. He paid the penalty that we owed to God because of our sins. We also know that the story of Jesus does not end on the cross. We celebrate Christmas because of Easter. When Jesus rose from the dead, he announced to all the world that our debt of sin has been paid for in full. Because of what Jesus has done for us, our song has been changed from a dirge to a song of joy.
We sing a new song because he has done marvelous things for us. One of the things that he has done for us is to send the Holy Spirit into our hearts to create a faith that makes what Jesus has done for us our own. Because of his work, we have become the children of God with all of the blessings that come with it. We know that God will take care of all of our needs. We have the assurance that God is guiding and directing our lives for our benefit. We have the privilege of coming to God in prayer, knowing that he will answer each of them in the way that is the best for us. We have the blessing in knowing that heaven is waiting for us. Blessings upon blessings are ours because God showed his love to us that first Christmas. We sing to the Lord a new song, that is filled with joy, for he has done wonderful things for us.
It is true that music is linked to Christmas. There is no other time of the year that has as many songs as Christmas does. Some of the songs that are associated with Christmas are silly, such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Some are sentimental such as “I’ll be home for Christmas.” Each of these songs have s place for each one of us. In the midst of all of this singing of Christmas songs, may the Lord fill us with a joy and peace in knowing that our Savior has come. So, we sing “Joy to the World.” We meditate on “Silent Night.” We invite with “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful.” We have every reason to sing this Christmas season and always. We sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things for us and for the whole world. Amen.
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