Monday, December 7, 2009

God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen (Part 2)

The application of God Rest you Merry Gentlemen’s message comes mainly in the form of contemplation that will hopefully compell us to live lives of gratitude for what God has done for us in Christ!

The first verse sets the tone for the hymn-

God rest you merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay, Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day, To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray! O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy!

The first line is: “GOD REST YOU MERRY, GENTLEMEN” This is often thought of as “God rest you, merry gentlemen”- it makes a big difference where you put the comma! The encouragement of the hymn is that God would give you rest in merriment- “May God rest you merry”. The hymn bids us merry rest- happy rest. It’s not bidding rest to merry gentlemen! So, the hymn bidding God to give us rest- a joyful rest at that! Hey, that’s Christmassy, isn’t it? Joyful rest? Sure, joyous rest is what Christmas is truly about. Please note, however, the hymn is totally honest about what is required for us to experience rest.

Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day, To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray!

Whoa! Satan? What happened to the silver bells, jingle bells, Santa coming to town and the Chestnuts roasting? Why so serious? What about: Have yourself a merry little Christmas? You know- Let your heart be light from now on, our troubles will be out of sight?

Well, very bluntly, our troubles cannot be “out of sight” unless Christ comes in human flesh to rescue us from Satan’s power! to fully appreciate Christmas, we have to see Satan’s role in the redemptive drama!

Notice the hymn’s honest acknowledgement of our dire straits and Satan’s personal involvement in our situation:

To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray!

Apart from Christ, our situation is way beyond dire- it’s sure eternal death. Notice the third verse of the hymn as well-

To free all those who trust in him from Satan’s pow’r and might.

Under Satan’s power? We were gone astray? You bet. According to scripture have all gone astray, that is, we have all sinned- every one of us!

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Furthermore, Sin has a terrible price:

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is what was meant when God told Adam-

Genesis 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

We must be saved from the penalty due for our sins. We can have no merriment, no comfort, no true Joy, apart from our sins be forgiven. This shed an important light on the opening of Matthew as Joseph is told of Jesus’ purpose in coming-

Matthew 1:20-23 …"Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

So, by all means, let us have our parties, let us roast chestnuts (although microwaving with a little water works just as well), exchange gifts, wear a Santa hat (if you must), drink a little eggnog (with a touch of rum), and make merry, but let us not do so without seriously contemplating the gravity of this fact- Our freedom from Sin and it’s penalty cost a great price! Jesus had to come to free us! The chorus of the hymn celebrates this reality:

O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy!


Woody Woodward said...

It’s amazing how such inspiring thoughts, so powerful revealed in this enduring hymn, have penetrated the hearts of believers across the world for hundreds of years. Yet sadly, without Christ as the heart and very essence of Christmas, these same powerful words casually sung, can even be mindlessly memorized. But for the lost world, they are just that; words of an old, outdated holiday song where the guilt of sin needs to be replaced with more modern day virtues of tolerance and open-minded acceptance of all religions.

Malcolm said...

Martha and I read from a daily devotional that studies a hymn each day. Today (12/14) was God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. In the commentary it said that old London had MUNICIPAL watchmen who were licensed to perform certain taks, including the singing of Christmas carols. This was one of their songs. Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing to walk through a mall or through Brookside or downtown Overland Park and see people actually standing on the street corner singing Chrismas Hymns?