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Christmas Reflections - Good News of Great Joy
On the night of the first Christmas, shepherds were tending their flocks. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared, the radiant weightiness (glory) of the Lord shone all around, and the shepherds “feared a great fear.”1
At times, we too fear a great fear, not because of the radiant weightiness of an angel, but because of the dismal weightiness of a disordered world. Too easily, our hearts become dys-eased. We fear that ours is a Darwinian world in which only the strong can thrive, a consuming world in which we are never satisfied, an overwhelming world in which we are alone.
Happily, the words of the angel come to us:
Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.2
Now, a savior who only gets us out of hell and into heaven is not savior enough. We need a good and present savior king who restores all things to their rightful place, who grants afresh our inheritance, who heals our dys-eased hearts, who strengthens and enlivens our spirits to live joyfully in this world.
On the first Christmas, an angel announced the birth of a Savior King; good news of great joy, joy to fill the heart of every man, woman, and child.
Let children grow up aware of the constant, immediate, joy-giving, joy-taking Presence in the midst of them, and you may laugh at all assaults of ‘infidelity,’ which is foolishness to him who knows his God as –– only far better than –– he knows father or mother, wife or child.
Let them grow up, too, with the shout of a King in their midst. There are, in this poor stuff we call human nature, founts of loyalty, worship, passionate devotion, glad service, which have, alas! to be unsealed in the earth-laden older heart, but only ask place to flow from the child.
There is no safeguard and no joy like that of being under orders, being possessed, controlled, continually in the service of One whom it is gladness to obey.3
Regardless of our current spiritual state, like the shepherds we can say 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.”4
In so doing, we give Christmas to our children, to our students, and perhaps to ourselves. In so doing, we receive good news of great joy.
1 Luke 2:9
2 Luke 2:11 (NRSV)
3 Mason, Charlotte. Parents and Children. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1989. 57-58.
4 Luke 2:15 (NRSV)
Berchem Nicolaes Pieters (1620–1683), The Annunciation to the Shepherds, oil on canvas, Courtesy of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery of UK. PDM