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Words: Love What When: John Flipse Walvoord (b. May 1, 1910; d. December 20, 2002); Love
Has Come: Ken Bible (b. _____, 1950)
Music: Love Was When: Donald John Wyrtzen (b. Aug. 16, 1942); Love Has Come: French carol melody from the 16th century (Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella)
Note: Something a little different for today. I’ve selected two lesser known Christmas songs that I think say important things about what we celebrate at Christmas.
On Valentine’s Day we think about our love for one another. But at Christmas we need to consider a love far greater and grander, the love of God for each one of us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). And, “thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (II Cor. 9:15).
Many of our Christmas hymns and carols tell the Christmas story, which is fine. We need to be reminded of it. And many call us to worship the One who came to earth that day–which is certainly appropriate. But relatively few of these songs call our attention specifically to the divine love that led to Christ’s coming in the first place. That is the theme I want to address briefly. To deal with the subject I’ll refer to two newer, and lesser known Christmas songs. But before we hear what they have to say, consider the subject as it’s addressed in the Word of God.
In the beginning, God created human beings, fashioning us “in His own image” (Gen. 1:26-27). Whatever the full significance of that is, it certainly means that we’re rational beings capable of loving God and accepting His love in return. But because He is omniscient, knowing all things, the Lord realized from the start that the sinful fall of man was coming. He knew that if that loving relationship was to be restored and preserved, we were going to need saving–that God Himself would have to rescue us. This is what the Word of God has to say about it.
“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [the full satisfaction of His holy justice] for our sins” (I Jn. 4:9-10).
There were two amazing journeys involved in that, one relatively short, one infinitely long. The shorter of the two is the five mile distance from Bethlehem to Calvary. The One laid in Bethlehem’s manger, long ago, later gave His life for our sins on the cross, not far from the place of His birth.
But far greater is the depth of condescension of the Son of God that brought Him from the heights of heaven’s glory to this sin-cursed earth to die.
“He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 4:8).
In 1970 a Christian musical was created called What’s It All About, Anyhow? In it is a solo number, written by one of the twentieth century’s great theologians, John F. Walvoord. The song, called Love Was When, says:
Love was when God became a Man.
Locked in time and space
Without rank or place.
There is the incarnation, that great humbling of the Infinite. Then Walvoord goes on to say:
Love was God nailed to bleed and die
To reach and love one such as I.
“Love was God dying for my sin,” says the author. Deity dying, but later rising in triumph over the grave (Matt. 28:6; Heb. 7:25). It is a wonder and a mystery beyond our comprehension. But we believe it because God says it’s so.
The second song was published in 1996. It was written Ken Bible, an author (of 15 books) and a Christian song writer, who has over 400 songs to his credit. The present song, called Love Has Come! gives a whole other dimension to the love of Christmas. Not only was the infinite love of God for us expressed then by what He did for us. It gets more personal than that.
Scripture tells us that love is such a significant characteristic of His nature that it is possible to say “God is love” (I Jn. 4:8, 16). In a sense, in the person of Christ, Love itself, Love personified, actually came down at Christmas, more than two thousand years ago. In the words of Ken Bible’s song:
Love is born! Come share in the wonder;
Love is God now asleep in the hay.
He Himself is the Love of Christmas. In the words of Mr. Bible, “Love is the gift of Christmas.”
1) What, to you, is the most wonderful thing about Christmas?
2) What is your favourite Christmas hymn or carol?