Encourage0gram December 3, 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Merry Mighty Christmas to you! The English word “merry” carries with it the connotation of strength. As an example, you may think of the Merry Men of the Knights of the round table. So, the greeting of Merry is a strong greeting; it is a call to celebrate the birth of Jesus with might and exuberance!
This season we find ourselves singing familiar Christmas carols as well as newly composed songs. The term “carol” is derived from “carola” which means ring dance. Carols have a long history associated with sacred folk songs and dancing in circles. These songs date back to the Middle Ages in Europe. Worship services sometimes included “miracle plays” which were used in the Medieval church to teach doctrine. Carols were sung during the plays as an intermezzo between various scenes. In 1627, the English Parliament abolished the celebration of Christmas and other “worldly festivals.” During the remainder of the seventeenth and well into the eighteenth century there were scarcely any “carols” written.
A son was born to Samuel and Suzanna on December 18, 1707. They named him Charles; he was the youngest of eighteen children in the family. Charles Wesley became not only a powerful preacher but a great poet and composer too. He wrote over 6500 poems and songs. I wholeheartedly recommend the biography of Charles Wesley written by Arnold Dallimore and entitled: “A Heart Set Free.”
Charrles attended Oxford University. In 1735, he was ordained by the Anglican Church of England. In 1738, he was returning from a mission trip to Georgia in the American colonies. During the trip, he met a group of believers called Moravians. They demonstrated a stout faith and joy in the Lord Jesus even during a great storm at sea.
Charles was sick with pleurisy when he returned home. In February of 1738, he was visited by the Moravian preacher Peter Bohler. Bohler challenged Charles about his faith. On May 17, 1738, Charles began reading Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians with William Holland another Moravian believer. On May 21, 1738 Charles was born again by putting his personal faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior. He said, “I arose with faith and health and happiness in the Lord.” Three days later, John Wesley, his brother experienced the new birth while hearing Martin Luther’s commentary on Romans. Together John and Charles began the Methodist Church. Preaching the gospel and calling people to the new birth was the keystone of the Methodist movement. This revival spread to America and ignited the “First Great Awakening.”
In 1739, Charles published a hymnbook. It contained a Christmas “Carol” which is one of my favorites. It is filled with quotes and allusions to Scripture and teaches sound doctrine. This week in our encourage0grams we will unlock some of the truths Charles wrote. It is my prayer that these thoughts will inspire your Christmas worship this season!
1. Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”
2. Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.
3. Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
4. Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Now display Thy saving pow’r,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.
5. Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
Oh, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
Your servant for Jesus’ sake,