Based on the hymn "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come"
St. John Lutheran Church; Buckley, IL
When Mr. Sandman sent me a letter that told me some of the things you are learning in school, I was very happy to that you are learning to sing "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come," this month. I thought how wonderful - It is one of my favorite hymns.
Good hymns are prayers set to music. In fact, Martin Luther said that when you sing a hymn, it is like praying twice. He meant that the words in the hymn are a prayer and the music helps say the words even better.
Some hymns, like "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come," are even like a sermon. They can teach you so much. I hope that when you sing a hymn you really enjoy the hymn and always sing the best you can. And I also hope that when a hymn is really hard to sing that you still do the best you can to read the words and learn from them.
Let me tell you a little bit about the hymn, "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come."
First of all, Martin Luther wrote it. Martin Luther had a big house because back in those days, they didn't have hotels. When people came from far away to visit a church, they often stayed at the pastor's house. So Martin Luther often had extra people staying in his house besides just his family. So he needed a big house.
When Christmas came, Martin Luther had the children put on a Christmas program in his house. One year, He wrote the hymn, "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come," and He had one of the children stand at the top of the stairs and pretend to be an angel. When it was time for the angels to tell about Jesus born in a manger, that child would walk down the stairs and sing the hymn at the same time. If you look at the hymn, the first five verses tell about the angels' message to the shepherds.
If you look at the first stanza, it is just like the angel saying, "Hey, everybody, listen to me. I come all the way from heaven with important news for you. Please listen carefully."
In the next stanza, the angel tells the shepherds about the birth of Jesus and He tells about Mary His mother. You should be really happy when you sing this stanza because it says that Jesus was a child just like you. He was born the way you were born and He grew up just the same way you are growing up. From this stanza we learn that Jesus is human just like you.
Then, stanza three tells us that Jesus is also God. Think about it. Jesus is not just a little baby in a manger, but He is also God at the same time. This hymn is telling us that Jesus is both a human being and God at the same time. Because Jesus is God, He never sinned and He is strong enough to fight the devil and win. Because Jesus is a human being, He can take our place. Instead of punishing us for our sins, God can punish Jesus for our sins.
That is exactly what Jesus did. He lived His whole life without sin and then He died on the cross to take away your sin and my sin. That is how He fought the devil and won.
Stanza four then tells us that Jesus gives this wonderful gift of forgiveness of sins to us for free. How can He do that? Well after He died on the cross and fought the devil for us, He came back to life. He rose from the dead. Now He gives us all the wonderful gift of forgiveness of sins.
Stanza five is the last stanza that the angel sings. He has one more thing to tell the shepherds. He needs to tell the shepherds how to find Jesus. Where is Jesus? He is in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. Even though Jesus is God and made everything, He comes to us in a manger.
The rest of the stanzas are about the shepherds going to the manger. How strange it must seem to the shepherds that God is now a little baby in a manger.
One of my favorite stanzas in this hymn is stanza 13. This stanza reminds me that even though we can't see Jesus with our eyes, He is still with us. When the Holy Spirit gives us faith, He makes our heart just like a home and Jesus lives there with us.
If we went to Bethlehem today, we would not find Jesus in a manger. Instead, today, we find Jesus in the heart of His people. When the Holy Spirit puts faith in us, Jesus prepares a special place to live with us.
Now I want you to use your imaginations. We are going to sing some more of the hymn and I want you to imagine what it was like for the shepherds to go to Bethlehem and see God in a manger. Amen
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