Ah, Christmas! The season of joy, peace on earth — and stress. Lots and lots of stress.
Maybe you have Christmas fatigue, worn out after putting up decorations, baking cookies and rushing to the umpteenth party. Perhaps you’ve spent too much and you’re already dreading the credit card bill next month. Or it could be you’ve experienced a major setback this year and just don’t feel like celebrating.
If any of that describes you, pause for a moment and ponder these six reasons to rejoice, courtesy of the Christmas angels themselves (read Luke 2:8-20):
If I had been a shepherd that night, I would have been “sore afraid,” too. Once the glow-in-the-dark angel materialized, I would’ve let out a girlie scream and taken cover behind a big sheep. But the angel says, “Do not be afraid, for behold…”
Those two little words are setting up news that will make fear fall like the walls of Jericho.
GOOD GREAT NEWS!
The angel in this depiction is oh-so-British and, frankly, a little humorless. But this was good tidings of “a great joy.” This wasn’t just pleasant news. This was such big news that one angel wasn’t enough to make the announcement. A cloud of heavenly messengers lit up the heavens to shout their praises. I can’t prove it, but I think they were all laughing, singing and whirling in angelic giddiness.
3. NOT FOR ONE OR MANY–FOR ALL.
The angel reported that this was good news for all people. He lists no restrictions or requirements. It was good news for smelly, outcast shepherds, and it’s still good news for all of us who stink of sin–you and me who fall short of God’s glory, the cranky neighbor next door, those who know they desperately need grace and those who don’t think they need it at all. The Good News isn’t just for “good” people; it’s for atheists, saints with busted halos, lukewarm churchgoers and the guy who cut you off in traffic last week and flashed you a one-finger salute. That famous verse, John 3:16, states that God so loved the world that He gave His Son: the world in all its messy, sinful, topsy-turvy state.
He was born a Savior. He died a Savior. He is Savior still. Jesus stated that His mission was to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). And who are “the lost?” We are. You and me and everyone born on this troubled planet. The call of the world and the temptations of evil can lure us into dark territory, places where we become prodigal children and end up in a mudhole of sorrow, angst and fear. But as Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom noted, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”
5. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT HE IS LORD, NOT A TYRANT.
The angel not only acknowledged the Babe of Bethlehem as Savior, but designated Him “Christ the Lord,” as well. For some, this does not sound like Good News. The title of lord sounds haughty and oppressive. But as Jesus Himself said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt 11:30). Jesus is a humble Lord, a gentle Leader. His commandments are not burdensome (I Jn 5:3), but give life and light to all who obey.
6. THE NEWS IS WORTH SHARING!
God became flesh. The Word lived among us in grace and truth. The infinite Lord descended into space and time–for all for us. Isn’t that news worth singing about, tidings that should be shared? The angels thought so. The shepherds did, too. After rushing into Bethlehem to see the Child, “they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child” (Lk 2:17). This wasn’t a dry report, for they were “glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen” (Lk 2:20).
Do you remember the last time you got really good news? Weren’t you excited? You could hardly wait to pick up the phone or deliver the news in person. The Best Tidings of All–God’s Good News of a Savior born–is waiting to be shared.
How will you do that today?
Pictured: “Angels Announcing the Birth of Christ to the Shepherds” by Govert Flinck (1639)