Prepare to Listen. As you light all the Advent candles, let these words prepare you to hear God’s Word: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!
Prayerfully Read Luke 2:8-20
8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
As the global pandemic persists, political polarization widens, lies about the U.S. election take hold, violence around the world increases, let alone our own personal difficulties, we all could do with an angel announcing, “good news of great joy for all people.”
The sign the angel gave the shepherds as proof of the good news might, however, disappoint us. An infant wrapped in bands of cloth lying in a manger is nothing unusual, even among the poor. Every mother wraps her newborn baby in cloth and lays it down somewhere! How would we know which infant was meant to be the good news? Would the manger be sufficient clue? Maybe; maybe not.
More problematic is that the angel’s sign is an infant “born this day.” What good is an infant when we need good news now? Infants are helpless, entirely dependent on others for protection and nurture. It will take years before the infant can do anything that will be good news to all people. We want/need the good news now. God sends a helpless infant. But, just as Ruth’s son gave Naomi a sure hope, so too does the infant Jesus. The shepherds never saw the new thing Jesus came to inaugurate, but they were filled with hope and rejoiced.
Decades passed before Mary’s infant began his work that ultimately changed the course of history, started a revolution against world rulers that continues to this day. God’s promise to make all things new isn’t a pipe dream. It’s a sure hope because of Jesus’ birth. Like the shepherds of old, we live in this hope as we wait and long for the day when the good news is fully realized for all people, around the world. Meanwhile we can live in ways that will be good news, giving hope to all people.
In what ways do you think you can live so that you’re good news to those you meet this Christmas Day?
Respond to Jesus
Lord Jesus your birth was and continues to be good news of great joy. May we, your followers, live in ways that truly are good news, not just to those around us, but to all people. Amen.
Live obediently. Be good news of great joy to others. Be Christian to the end.
May you experience peace and joy as you celebrate the Advent of Jesus our Lord.