You are warmly invited to a simple portrayal of the Christmas stories on Sunday evening, December 23rd, at 4:30 or 6:00 p.m. at the church on Hawk Mountain Road. There will be readings from the Gospels while people in costume present the stories. It lasts about 35 minutes.
On the night Jesus was born, “a multitude of the heavenly host” appeared to certain shepherds to announce His birth. The word commonly translated “host” is the Greek word stratias, from which we have our word “strategy.” It means an army. We should picture a multitude of heavenly soldiers.
The heavenly army was praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill among men” (Luke 2:13-14). Ideally soldiers do not seek their own glory, but the glory of God. Their mission is to protect peace on earth and provide opportunities for goodwill among men to flourish.
In the spiritual sense, an army means truths, especially truths plainly taught in the Lord’s Word. The Ten Commandments, and clear statements showing that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Almighty God, are examples of the truths meant by an “army.” These truths are the weapons we use to defend ourselves from attacks of selfishness.
The Lord wants to recruit us into His heavenly army, because there we will be safe and happy forever. Our first duty as recruits is to learn to self-discipline. It takes a lot of years of spiritual bootcamp with truths from the Word like drill sergeants yelling in our ears before we learn! But practicing real repentance for the Lord’s sake is the only way that we can truly give glory to God, and live in peace and goodwill among men.
Even in civil life, the war for people’s minds and hearts is much more important in achieving peace than the military victory, necessary as that may sometimes be. How much truer this is on the spiritual level! It is crucially important to know who God is and what He is like, and how He wants us to treat each other. This is why the Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, came into the world: so that we would know clearly that God is Divine Man. He is our Commander in Chief (Joshua 5:14). He is our Hero of War (Psalm 24:8).
We think of our young men who have served or are serving our country in military service. We know that our Commander has His eyes on them and that the heavenly army surrounds them, as it does each of us. May we too be good soldiers-in-training, fighting our battles bravely, so that we may praise God sincerely and work toward peace on earth, goodwill among men.
Rev. Lawson M. Smith