Published December 5, 2017

Paul's Epistle

      Noël, Noël, Noël, Noël
      Born is the King of Israel!

You can't get through the Christmas season without hearing the word "Noël." In church, on the radio, even blaring in the shopping malls, you hear that favorite old Christmas carol, "The First Noël." And that's a good thing.

I find that word "Noël" interesting on many levels. Most consider it of French origin, and it's still used there today as, for all practical purposes, a synonym for Christmas. "Joyeux Noël" is the traditional French expression meaning "Merry Christmas."

Some scholars believe it stems from the French word "nouvelles," which means "news." Others take it back even farther to the Latin term "natalis," which means "birth." "Noël," then, originated in the good news of Christ's birth!

But allow me to suggest something about this term that is not at all based in its etymology — its linguistic origins. Rather, it's based simply on two aspects of how the word is pronounced in English.

First, the first syllable, "no," is pronounced the same as the word "know."  (That's called a homophone.)

Second, the last syllable of the word, "el," is the most basic Old Testament term for God, appearing more than 250 in the Tanakh, the Jewish Scriptures.

Now, if we mash those two syllables together in a way you've probably never considered, we get "know God." So every time we hear that term, "Noël," we should consider it a reminder to "know God."

Hmmm... Come to think of it, isn't that what Christmas is really all about?

Christ came – God in the flesh – so that we could have an opportunity to know God. Christ told Philip, "How can you say, ‘Show us the Father'?" After all, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father..." (John 14:9). What's more, the Lord said, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him" (John 14:7).

The Lord's Nativity – His birth that we celebrate at Christmas – was how God chose to reveal Himself more fully to a fallen humanity. Sure, God had spoken throughout the Old Testament, especially through His prophets. But now – for the first time – "the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us" (John 1:14).

So Christmas is all about the opportunity God has given us to know Him. And if you know Christ — the One Whose birth we celebrate this season — you know God.


- Paul

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