OK … Christmas is just over one week away!
Hearing an announcement like that can often stir and trigger a flood of emotions from deep inside the hearts of humanity.
From among the masses, the message of Christmas brings excitement and joy as well as loneliness and sorrow. Christmas is cheery for some and blue for others.
Why is that?
Perhaps it is because the Christmas announcement has been generating an emotional response since the day of Jesus’ birth.
Luke tells us that part of the original birth announcement of Jesus addressed the emotions of the original audience. The angel said to the shepherds,
“Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Saviour, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.
Did you catch that? The angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid’.
Now, we can well imagine ‘why’ these hillbilly shepherds would probably be afraid. Can you imagine the glory of God literally appearing to you out of the blue one day? But that’s exactly what happened.
In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Yes, there it is. These local country bumpkin peasants were shaking in their sandals because of the sudden appearance of an angel and the glory of God as company. They were most likely fearful because the glory of God was normally associated with the Temple, not the pasture.
But the thing that stands out me today is this: while the shepherds were an emotional mess, the angel said ‘look’.
“Don’t be afraid, for look … God has done something great!”
OK, I paraphrased that verse just a tad. But that’s the point of the announcement. God has done something so remarkably wonderful there was only one way to phrase it: good news! And it’s so good that you just gotta see it.
I know that ‘good news’ seems like an oxymoron in today’s culture, and we can be tempted to roll our eyes at the thought of news that is positive, but a proclamation of ‘good news’ was not lost on the ancient listener.
You see, Rome often made similar announcements or proclamations about the conquering actions of the Emperor that added to the might of the growing Empire. For Rome, Caesar was the ‘saviour of the world’ on a mission to bring about ‘peace to the world’ by conquering the nations.
However, this angelic announcement on the Judean hillside had nothing to do with Rome or Caesar, but everything to do with mighty action.
In the previous chapter, Luke recorded an inspirational song by Mary, the mother of Jesus. She is truly a gem of a lady for not only agreeing to having her wedding day wrecked by God, but actually celebrating and praising God for doing it!
One of the remarkable things about Mary’s song are the powerful verbs used to describe the wonderful action and deeds of God (see Luke 1:46-55). In other words, Mary – whose life has just literally been ruined in one sense – looks to God, and sings a Spirit-inspired song that focuses and celebrates the mighty action of the God of Israel.
Here’s the point.
In our time of emotional challenges, in our present moment of mess, and in our current situation where our lives seem to altered forever … look to God.
The angels said ‘look’. Mary sings ‘look’. Today we can look.
Because God has done great things; He has done a mighty deed; He has provided the way, truth and life; He has brought a light for all the nations; He has given us Jesus – the Saviour of the world!
Now that’s truly good news.
So let’s try this.
Have you ever had to do an assignment that required you to fill in the blank? I am sure you have. So let’s all fill in the blank when it comes to applying the words of the angel to us.
To the shepherds, the angel said: “Don’t be afraid”.
Try replacing ‘afraid’ with another word that describes your present life and situation. What will that word be?
Maybe it is afraid, but maybe it’s something else like worry, doubt, anger, frustration, weariness, numbness or even hopelessness. Whatever it is, place your emotion and word in the sentence and read the whole verse back to yourself as if the angel was speaking the good news to you.
“Don’t be ____________, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Saviour, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.”
Say it again.
Repeat it one more time.
You are telling yourself the good news. Allow the Truth of God to be mediated into your very soul. Allow yourself to be aligned with the greatest news story of the century: God has come for you.
I am not attempting to belittle your emotions or try and pacify you with some sort of Christianeese cliche. Lord only knows we have too much of that floating around as it is. But the good news is still the good news. It was good news then and it is good news now, and in the midst of Omicron days, we all could use some good news.
So today, be reminded of God’s good news even in the midst of an ongoing mess: Today, God is here and He is here for you.