top of page

From The Pastor's Pen

(Pastor Evan W. Hill)

December, 2021

The following is Pastor Evan's message from our December, 2021 newsletter.

You know that scene at the end of It's a Wonderful Life, when everyone comes to the Bailey house with money to rescue the Savings and Loan and then they all sing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" together around the tree? It makes me cry every time. I admit it: I'm a sucker for a happy ending.

For much of my life, "Hark! The Herald" has been the carol that epitomizes Christmas peace and joy, mostly because of It's a Wonderful Life. It's easily my favorite Christmas carol. Whenever we sing it, I feel like I'm with the Bailey family and all the people of Bedford Falls. Love and hope and cheerfulness fill the air. This has little to do with what the carol actually says, however, and more to do with the nostalgia it evokes.

In fact, it wasn't until just a few years ago that I began paying attention to the words of "Hark! The Herald." And, wow, they are filled with such good news! It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Charles Wesley's hymns, but it was "Hark! The Herald" that first made me aware of his genius. When I began to listen to the words I was singing, I realized that Wesley was saying something profound about Christmas that I had never considered before


Right there in the first verse, we sing:

Hark! The herald angels sing,

"Glory to the newborn king;

Peace on earth and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled.”

I don't know about you, but for most of my Christian journey, I've been taught that we are saved by Christ's death on the cross. It is Jesus' death in our place that reconciles us to God. But in "Hark! The Herald," Wesley has us sing that the birth of Jesus reconciles God and sinners. We're saying that the Incarnation – God being born of a woman in the flesh – is part of what has saved us.

As it turns out, Wesley is on solid biblical ground here. Paul writes, "In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting our trespasses against us" (2 Cor. 5:19). Not just in his death, but throughout Jesus' whole life, God was reconciling us to himself. So, our reconciliation with God began at the birth of Jesus.

Our salvation has come because God, the Almighty Creator of Heaven and earth, chose to take on our broken human nature, what Scripture calls "sinful flesh." As Wesley says later in the hymn, God was "pleased with us in flesh to dwell." God chose to be joined with what had been sick and broken by sin, and in doing so, brought healing to it. God chose to be "born that we no more may die."

"Hark! The Herald" helped me to realize that at Christmas we're not only celebrating the birth of a Savior, we're celebrating salvation itself.

Because God chose to take on our brokenness, we now have our brokenness healed. Because God lived a human life, we can live a life that is more like God. We can live a life that is actually fulfilling, as we love God and love others, just as Jesus did.

bottom of page