Worth Shouting About
By Scott Armstrong
Christmas Day has come and gone, and the tendency is to forget that we are still in the Christmas season as a worldwide Church. In fact, I am still reflecting a great deal on many passages in the gospel of Luke that we typically equate with Christmas. And this year something has grabbed my attention that I am embarrassed to say I had not really noticed in previous years. To use the lyrics of an old gospel tune:
“Oh what singing, oh what shouting!”
Seemingly everyone in the first chapters of Luke is announcing or proclaiming something, oftentimes through shouts or song!
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look:
- After proclaiming the message of a miraculous birth to Zechariah (1:11-20), the angel Gabriel does the same to Mary (1:26-38). Most translations mention that he merely “said” his message, so it appears this was a pretty normal conversation, right? No way! This encounter was extraordinary, and there is a reason we have come to call it “the Annunciation.”
- Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, and baby John leaps in her womb. The natural response? “In a loud voice she exclaimed” her praises (1:42-45).
- Young Mary then gets in on the act and bursts into her own song (1:46-55).
- After being mute for nine months, Zechariah presents his son for circumcision and writes on the tablet that his name is John. “Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God” (1:64).
- Part of Zechariah’s speaking and praising ended up expressing itself in a beautiful, prophetic song (1:67-79).
- An angel appears to shepherds on the night that Jesus was born, and we can surmise that his announcement of “good news of great joy for all the people” was not given in a relaxed, nonchalant manner. Still, just to make sure we understand this is worth singing and shouting about, a massive angel choir appears around him giving glory to God (2:13-14).
- The response of the shepherds is to go and see, but then naturally to “spread the word” (2:17) and “glorify and praise God” (2:20).
- Now it’s Jesus’ turn to be presented in the temple for circumcision, and a devout man named Simeon takes him in his arms and joyfully praises God (2:28-32). He had been waiting years for this!
- That same day, Anna, a very old prophetess whose life exuded worship, gives thanks to God and speaks excitedly about the baby to everyone there (2:38).
That’s a lot of singing, shouting, praising, and proclaiming for sure. In fact, all of these birth narratives transition in chapter three to an adult John the Baptist who is known as – you guessed it – a “voice of one crying in the desert” (Is. 40:3; Luke 3:4).
Could it be that this whole Christmas message is worth singing and shouting about?
Could it be that we, too, are invited to abandon our typical propriety in order to loudly praise the Lord?
Could it be that God is calling us to also let loose in joy and let the world know that the Savior has come!? After all, we sing every year around this time:
“Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.”