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  • Matt Beaney

#705. GOD REST YE MERRY, GENTLEMEN (6/12/22)

Leading up to Christmas Day, I thought it would be good to look at 15 of the most popular carols (chosen by Classic FM listeners) and consider the content and what we can learn from them.

A reflection based on God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, number 14 in our chart of most popular carols.


LYRICS

God rest ye merry, gentlemen

Let nothing you dismay

Remember, Christ, our Saviour

Was born on Christmas Day

To save us all from Satan's power

When we were gone astray

O tidings of comfort and joy

Comfort and joy

O tidings of comfort and joy!


From God our Heavenly Father

A blessed angel came;

And unto certain shepherds

Brought tidings of the same:

How that in Bethlehem was born

The Son of God by Name

O tidings of comfort and joy

Comfort and joy

O tidings of comfort and joy!


The shepherds at those tidings

Rejoiced much in mind

And left their flocks a-feeding

In tempest, storm and wind:

And went to Bethlehem straightway

The Son of God to find

O tidings of comfort and joy

Comfort and joy

O tidings of comfort and joy!


Now to the Lord sing praises

All you within this place

And with true love and brotherhood

Each other now embrace

This holy tide of Christmas

Doth bring redeeming grace

O tidings of comfort and joy

Comfort and joy

O tidings of comfort and joy!


This carol reflects what we read in the world of Luke 2:8-17:

‘And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child…’ (Luke 2:8-17)

GOD’S REST

The meaning of the line ‘God rest ye, merry gentlemen’ is normally, I feel, lost on us (or maybe it just me!). It conjures up ideas of slightly inebriated pink-cheeked men in a pub somewhere. However, the phrase is profound. It means:

‘May God’s rest be upon you and make you merry, gentlemen’


Hebrews tells us of this rest:

‘There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.’ (Hebrews 4:9-11)

The song immediately tells us how one can enter into God’s rest:

‘Remember Christ our Saviour, Was born on Christmas Day, To save us all from Satan's pow’r, When we were gone astray…’

You and I, men and women, are the ‘gentlemen’ of this carol. We are invited to hear and receive joy. As God said to the shepherds, God wants to say to us:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

We can know that we have God’s ‘peace’ and ‘favour’ if, like the shepherds, we will respond in faith and go to Jesus.


DELIVERED FROM SATAN’S POWER

This is no sentimental carol. This recounts the events of Jesus’ birth, but, more importantly, reminds us the message of salvation that Jesus came to bring. This carol encourages us to remember that Jesus has come to:

‘To save us all from Satan's pow’r, When we were gone astray…To free all those who trust in Him, From Satan's pow'r and might…’

All of us are born into the kingdom of darkness and under the authority of the devil. However, those who receive Christ are transferred in the Kingdom of God and come under Jesus’ loving authority. Paul writes of this:

‘For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.’ (Colossians 1:13-14)

COMFORT AND JOY

The truths of this amazing carol truly are:

‘Oh tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy, Oh tidings of comfort and joy’

Like those poor shepherds, all who receive Christ, meditate on and sing these truths can rest and find comfort and be ‘merry’ in Jesus’ love and victory.

TAKE A MOMENT TO LISTEN TO THIS CAROL:



 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY

1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

 

2. Icebreaker

What do you most enjoy about Christmas and why? What do you most dislike about Christmas and why?

 

3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group


On Sunday, Nev Floyd finished our series in 1 Corinthians. The title of his message was:


DO EVERYTHING IN LOVE

'Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.14 Do everything in love.' (1 Corinthians 16:13)

The book of Corinthians encourages us to be loving, particularly within the church community. Despite being very 'spiritual', the Corinthians were failing to love each other in many ways. Many people who are devoted to Jesus, can fail to be devoted, kind, forgiving, serving, generous... to their local church. Here are a few ways that we can 'do everything in love' from 1 Corinthians 16:


1. (16:1-4) TO LOVE IS TO BE GENEROUS (FINANCIALLY)

Paul opens this section with directions on how to give in order to support his ministry.

The church family at CCP is very generous. It's inspiring to see how this church community gives financially. Let's continue to be thankful and open to the Spirit's leading in our giving.


2. (16:5-9) TO LOVE IS TO WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH GOD'S PEOPLE

These verses reveal Paul's desire to visit the churches he's in relationship with. He writes: 'I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you...'

Do we want to spend time with our church family? How can we give quality time to our community? During this Christmas season, who can we include in our lives?


3. (16:10-12) TO LOVE IS TO HONOUR WITH OUR WORDS

Nev encouraged us to speak of others when they are absent as if they were present.


4. (16:15-18) TO LOVE IS TO REFRESH OTHERS

When we meet others, do we seek to love and refresh others or are we only seeking our benefit?


5. (16:19-24) TO LOVE IS TO SHOW LOVING AFFECTION

Paul speaks of his love for a number of people and encourages them to 'Greet one another with a holy kiss.' He ends with 'The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.'

Do express our love for people? How can we seek to do this?


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

i. Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?

ii. What of the above 5 ways to love from this chapter do you find most difficult and why?


PRAYER AND SIV

SIV - Let's give time to sharing and praying for the carol service, this coming Sunday.

SIC - Could you copy the image below and share it with someone?





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