The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. 11 Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. 12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, 14 “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” 15 When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. 18 Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them.Luke 2:10-18
It is the Christmas season. Just as a reminder on seasons, the season of Advent runs from December 1 (four Sundays prior to the 25) through December 24, and the Christmas season (all twelve days) goes from December 25 to January 5, ending with Epiphany on January 6. Our culture has forgotten this, and all the focus is pre-25th, largely because of the marketing and sales season leading up to the religious-neutral gift-giving extravaganza of Christmas morning. But we know what this season is really about. We know that there is more to Christmas than shelling out more than we can afford in a feeble attempt to buy favor with our friends and family. Christmas is about the incarnation of God’s unconditional love into human form. That love made flesh changed, and continues to change, the world.
A couple things about this Scripture in Luke about the birth of Christ that are interesting. First, the angel begins, like angels seem to always do, with “Don’t be afraid!” Too late. Heavenly beings just showed up. Already terrified. I guess it’s good to lead with that since anything said at first is lost to fear anyway. When we fear, we can’t listen well; our minds wander and race to all the scary possibilities. But then the real message unfolds.
Apparently, the shepherds were able to calm down because they heard every detail necessary to be able to find the baby Jesus without the aid of GPS. And thus, the second part of this amazing passage becomes apparent. “When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them.” The shepherds shared the news. They must have done so with enthusiasm, for those who heard it were amazed.
Do we do the same? Do we share the Good News of Jesus Christ with enthusiasm enough that people are amazed to hear it? Maybe we should. This is the best news on the planet: God so loved the world that God became flesh and dwelt among us. Through Jesus, God has experienced the human condition. God knows us, and yet God still loves us. Tell the story. Let people be amazed. If God can love me and you, despite all our flaws, maybe that can give hope to those we talk with.
Let this Christmas season be full of joy, hope, and even amazement. Tell the story. Change the world, one heart at a time.
Yours in Christ,