LSB 368 Angels we have heard on high
Angels, Shepherds, and Us
God makes Himself available to sinful people and one inescapable aspect of his connecting to us is "Glory". To put it from our perspective, when fallen humans encounter God, His "Glory" is as close as we can get until this mortal flesh puts on immortality.
The Glory of God in many cases appears as light breaking through darkness and while this is often times physical light illuminating physical darkness. The Glory of God carries the promise of God's Light and Presence piercing theological, philosophical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and any other kind of darkness.
Consistently, when God shows Himself to people throughout the Bible accounts Glory is part of God coming to act on behalf of his people.
The Glory of God fills the tabernacle and temple in order to make God's presence real. Forgiveness, Peace, Thanksgiving offerings along with prayers were all given and received as God spoke, God's people listened, God's people spoke and God listened. God's people worshiped in the real presence of God's Glory come to earth in the place and in the manner God promised.
God putting on flesh and blood to be born in Bethlehem provides the new place and manner of God's real presence. God the Son is the Glory of the Father and the Holy Spirit to serve the fallen humanity. The Angels accompany His Jesus' birth by affirming that the Glory of God in the highest heaven has come not in fire or smoke or winds or earthquakes or even in just a still small voice, but in the flesh and blood of Jesus the Son.
The Christian Liturgy continues this praise by affirming that Jesus promise to be with His people as they gather for worship is true every single time and especially true in the manner and at the time He provides.
Word and Sacrament are His designated means for delivering His gifts. Glory to God in the highest.
The greater Gloria inspiring todays carol is an ancient hymn of praise reaching back before the fourth century in Christendom. Its words are even more universally accepted between Eastern and Western Rite Christians than the Nicene Creed. The background and text of the Gloria may be found at the link below. It is used in Lutheran Hymnals published around the world.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.