Advent: Glad Tidings

“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks”

While shepherds watch their flocks by night,  All seated on the ground,

The angel of the Lord came down

And glory shone around, And glory shone around.

“Fear not,” said he, for mighty dread, had seized their troubled mind,

“Glad tidings of great joy I bring

To you and all mankind, to you and all mankind.”

“To you in, in David’s town this day, is born of David’s line,

The Savior, who is Christ the Lord;

And this shall be the sign, and this shall be the sign.”

“All glory be to God on high, and to the earth be peace.

Goodwill henceforth from heav’n to men

Begin and never cease, begin and never cease.

Nahum Tate, 1562

News that makes the heart falter and faint. 

It probably seemed like every other night of waiting and guarding against potential badness.  The shepherds had certainly sat in those hills many a night listening for the sound of an endangered lamb to rescue, a rustle from a stealthy predator, or the cough of a fellow watchman subcumbing to the harsh elements.  The promise of a Messiah–a rescuer–buried undered the recurring nag of bad news.    If there was news to be had, it would no doubt be bad news. 

Like the shepherds, there are promises of old that we cease to anticipate.  We get stuck in a cynical rut, presuming that all news is bad news.  We fret.  We fear.  We fail to hear the messages of hope. 

I’ve been stuck in a cluster of bad news.  Instead of counting sheep, I find myself counting disappointments and discouragements.  The long night of my discouragement seems to pass slowly through the darkness of the circumstances.

And yet, I hear the message of hope that Christmas speaks. 

The good news of Christmas is that God keeps His promises.  The good news He promises is the good news He fulfills.   The bad news that we are alone in our disappointment and despair is replaced with the good news that we have a Savior who enters our world to give us a future and a hope.  The apostle Paul declared that the good news of Jesus is that God is always true to His word and this is our hope (Col. 1:5)!

Glad tidings, indeed!  Can your heart hear the candance of the angel’s song? 

In whatever news you’re facing today, do not forget that there are glad tidings for you!  Christ has come–that ought to make all the difference in the world.  Sit under the stars and marvel at the message of the angels of old, ““Fear not,” said he, for mighty dread had seized their troubled mind, “Glad tidings of great joy I bring!”

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