Good News, Great Joy

From Luke’s Gospel, chapter two, verses eight through twenty:

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. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today a Savior, who is Messiah, the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly hosts with the angel, praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!”

When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. After seeing them they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. The shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.

I pray this Christmas the good news of great joy will find you, as it did the shepherds. Those shepherds who sat far off in the hills, in the darkness, out of sight and out of mind of the hustling and bustling important people of Bethlehem. Night after night they sat and watched their sheep with unrecognizable faces blurring into the shadows of the darkness, yet seen by God.

God loves to smile on the unknown, those who missed out on fame and fortune. He delights in the “unnamed,” the unpopular, and the invisible. God’s good news echoes out from the margins, the forgotten, unimportant places. 

Imagine how brightly the glory of the Lord must have shone into the darkness of their waiting. Illuminating the light of hope can be a scary things for those who only know the darkness. “Do not be a afraid,” the angels say. “You who watch for wolves and bears. Look now! A Savior is born for you.”

Run, shepherds, run. Let your feet run along the path of hope. Go straight and see peace, Peace. Be amazed. Worship; glorify and praise God for all you have seen and heard.

Run, shepherd friends, run. Run to worship Jesus. Let the glory of the Lord shine all about you. Do not be terrified. His favor is upon you–this means He loves you and desires for you to know His kindness.

Kindness is powerful kind of light. It proclaims, “You are seen.” “You are not alone.” “I am here with you.

Yes, the good news of Christmas is God is with us. Emmanuel.

| Now wrapped snugly in cloth; soon cloaked in the sins of all the world

| Now laid in feeding trough; soon raised up as the sacrificial lamb

| Now adored by simple shepherds; soon to be the Good Shepherd who lays down his      life for his sheep that they may have life and have it in abundance (Jn. 10:10-11)

Yes, I know it’s hard to trust good news these days. We hear so little of it and what we do seems always to have a booby trap of fine print. The “Christmas spirit” is glum and greedy; long lines shuffle hurried, beat down souls unfamiliar with kindness.

I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

The good news of God’s kindness is ALL good news. No catch. No gimmick. Just great joy! Peace has come from heaven.

Merry Christmas, shepherd friends! May you run and see what the Lord has made known to us. May His kindness illuminate your hope; may it sound like joy and feel like peace.

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