Of all the Christmas carols there are, it's The First Noel that has always made me cry. There have actually been times I've sobbed upon hearing it. It’s the kind of thing I’ve understood and I haven’t. Yes, it is my favorite Christmas song but it runs even deeper then that. So a few years ago, I started researching the word noel and its origins. And the Holy Spirit began enlightening me to some deeper truths.
I am not a theologian, and this was not an exhaustive study, but I thought I'd share a brief summary of what I discovered in my own searching.
The First Noel is a traditional English carol. I could find no information about who originally penned the song. However, additional lyrics were written and edited by William Sandys and Davies Gilbert, both British authors, who gave us the version we know so well today. They entitled it, The First Nowell, and based it upon the Gospel account of Christ's birth.
The English word Nowell was taken from the French word Noel. It can be traced further back to the Latin word natalis, which means "birth" or "birthday" as a noun, or "of or relating to birth" as an adjective. Noel is also used as a modern term for Christmas or in reference to the Christmas season.
So when we sing The First Noel, we're singing about Jesus and His birth. Said another way, we are singing in celebration of His birth. He is The First Noel or the first Christmas. Perhaps it could even be rightly called the first birth or the original birth of Christmas.
I personally believe the true root (Jesus; the root of Jesse [David's father] - Isaiah 11:10; Romans 15:12; Revelation 22:16) of Christmas was established by the first coming of Christ as a baby. And while we commemorate or celebrate His birth during this time of year, it's not just a holiday; Christmas is a person.
Christmas is Jesus.
He came to us because God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] will not perish, but have eternal life with Him. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:16-17).
I'll add my own translation here:
Christmas came because God loves us. And He, Jesus, is God's gift to us.
When you accept Christ as your Savior and Lord, you are receiving The First Noel himself. You're truly receiving and being transformed by Emmanuel, which means God with us. And He is with us. Therefore, you carry the living CHRISTmas within you - in your spirit.
When we sincerely invite Him into our lives, He comes. When we call upon His name, He comes. He comes to have genuine relationship with us. He comes for us to know Him. It is the supernatural residence of Christ in us sealed through and by the Spirit of God. The Apostle Paul called it a mystery. And to our natural minds it most certainly is, but it's true nonetheless.
It's no wonder, then, that our spirits would bear witness to this song, or any song or words for that matter, about Him (which is why I believe it affects me the way it does). The Spirit of Christ in us is responding. Our innermost being is bearing witness to the truth of who He is and what He's done for us.
Just as Elizabeth's baby (John the Baptist) leapt in her womb when she was near Mary with Jesus in her's, may we be stirred this beautiful holy season by "the hope of glory" in us. May we come to know Him more deeply. And may we live everyday as holy in the very essence of Christmas itself; in Jesus, Yeshua, our King - our beloved Noel.
In His love and peace,
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