O Holy Night
December 24, 2021 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Christ Lutheran Church
December 24, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
O Holy Night
How do we know, among all the world’s religions, that the Holy Christian Religion is the One True Faith, and that there are no others?
In today’s Christo-phobic climate even many Christians are embarrassed to say that this Holy Faith in the Baby Born on this Holy Night, is the world’s one and only Savior. And that “ There is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
How can that be, they say? Don’t all roads lead to Rome? Maybe they do, but of all the contenders only one horse wins the Kentucky Derby, the rest “also rans” and there is no jack-pot to be won there or in any timid bet. With Christ we must be “all in” or we will be “all out”. The Baby born This Holy Night says in Luke 12:30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
This does not mean that the church should be obnoxious in her witness; indeed her speech must be seasoned with salt, and show men light in the midst of darkness. She must be able to richly supply them with faith as a shield, hope as an anchor, and the love of God in a world that is on empty when it comes to these chief Christian virtues.
But to get back to our point: How do we know, among the many contenders, which is the faith that will see us through life, suffering, death, grave, and give us the: resurrection of the body, and life everlasting? What creed will erase guilt, and reconcile us to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Those are big, big questions, and the wisest of earth’s wisemen have no reliable answers. And so men settle for something less. Something they can grasp. Something that can make them feel good, and smooth out life’s bumps for them. That is understandable, but in the church the true faith is revealed.
One of the markers that convince the woke-but-really-comatose heart is the power of the message itself. The Gospel of Jesus Christ which is “the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.” That on this Holy Night God joined his divinity to our humanity. As our Carol says,
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.”
When the Holy and Divine Jesus assumed human flesh, AND SOUL, then the condition of all souls changed. The rising tide of Christ lifts all boats. All of humanity is lifted high, though many in each generation don’t know why, or understand how.
But it is the love of God for us in Christ; and what our Lord was willing to do. To pay for our sins by suffering and death, and thereby purge the terrible consequences of our sins. To be momentarily rejected by the Father on the cross, so that we should be received by Him.
There are other markers as well. The overwhelming beauty of her art, architecture and especially her liturgy. The colors, the movements, the smells, the sounds fall like gold dust upon every person in this holy house.
At street level it is her vast charitable works, her commitment to the health, education and welfare of all God’s children, that is a marker of the One True Faith.
But another unmistakable marker of the true faith is its music; the thrilling lyrics and the inspiring music. Our music moves the soul of all people.
To this day hoards of musical students move from the east to the west to learn from the best. From Bach, Handel, Pachelbel and too many others to mention. Like the wisemen they seek out the child born this Holy Night, because nothing in the orient matches the music inspired by his appearance in the Flesh.
No one who hears can deny that it is inspired by the Power Source from which comes every good and perfect gift. That it comes from precincts outside the cosmos, because heaven entered the cosmos in Christ.
Tonight’s Carol, O Holy Night is a prime example.
Our Carol started life as a poem, written in 1847 in France by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure who was the commissionaire of wines in a small French town.
He was known more for his poetry than his church attendance, but even here we find a beautiful mystery: that when Christ is in the air, as he was many years ago in our country, even someone not openly religious could turn out a work like this.
The stirring and unforgettable music that plants earworms in every ear was composed by Adolphe Charles Adams; a man of Jewish ancestry, whom the gospel moved mightily. A man who sucked music from his mothers breast as a child, because she was a great musician.
The combination of lyrics and music has given us perhaps the most beautiful piece of Christmas music ever heard by human ear even as St. Paul says: “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,” the things that God has prepared for those who love him.
You can consider this hymn as Christmas gift from God to accompany the beauty of the Savior he sent. When we heard it earlier it stimulated our brains, which sent thrilling signals through our spinal cords, that ended in the core of our being.
How great is this Carol.
There is a legend, that logic tells us must be more than a legend, that on Christmas Eve 1871, in the midst of fierce fighting between the armies of Germany and France, during the Franco-Prussian War, a French soldier suddenly jumped out of his muddy trench. Both sides stared at the seemingly crazed man. Boldly standing with no weapon in his hand or at his side, he lifted his eyes to the heavens and sang, “O Holy Night”.
After completing all three verses a German infantryman climbed out his hiding place and answered with, "Vom Himmel Hoch” Martin Luther's robust "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come." The story goes that the fighting stopped for the next twenty-four hours while the men on both sides observed a temporary peace in honor of this Holy Night.
But what is definitely not legend is that in December of 1999 the “Singing Angels” gave a Christmas concert in a downtown Cleveland theater that was no Christmas concert at all. In keeping with the times it included only non-religious Christmas songs: Jingle Bells etc., and even a Hanukah Song. People appreciated it.
But as the last piece, when O Holy Night was sung by a female soloist, a hush came over the house as the introductory music began. And as she sang all thoughts of secular Christmas disappeared and the whole house was put into a religious trance as they heard the mighty Christmas gospel sung in the voice of angels. At the conclusion the standing ovation, which would not cease, brought down the house, and everyone knew that the afternoon had been redeemed.
So tonight and tomorrow at the Christ Mass, let us also fall on our knees, and hear the angels’ voices. For this Holy Night brings Divinity to man, and insures glorious life for us, in Christ, unto the ages of ages. Amen.