Peace be with you!
We have been waiting four weeks to welcome baby Jesus into the world. The first week of Advent Jesus told us to expect the unexpected and to be prepared by being good stewards. Jesus does not want us to be idle as we wait for his return. He wants us to be actively spreading the good news that Jesus will be returning. The second week John the Baptist warned us the Messiah is coming to judge the living and the dead by welcoming the righteous into the Kingdom of God and condemning the wicked to hell. John the Baptist’s warning was stern. The third week John the Baptist questioned if Jesus was in fact the Messiah? Jesus showed us how the Kingdom of God was and is breaking into the world, saying: “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me” (Matthew 11:5-6 NRSV). The fourth week, with the help of an angel, Joseph discerned what to do with Mary who was pregnant before their wedding day. Joseph decided to extend forgiveness, grace, and love to Mary by taking her as his wife.
Now, we gaze into the stable and see Mary and Joseph, new parents to the tiny baby King lying in the manger. We have been waiting for this moment for weeks now. We have been waiting for God to enter the world again. Joseph and John the Baptist have been preparing for Jesus’ arrival into the world as they discern who Jesus really is. We have also been discerning who Jesus is in our lives. We have been reflecting on how we welcome Jesus into our lives.
“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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, ‘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. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’” (Luke 2:8-14 NRSV).
What would we do if we were among the shepherd, hearing the angels’ glad tidings? Would we be scared? Excited? Dumbfounded? What would we do if angels came and sang, “Glory to God in the highest”? Would we go and see the unexpected like the shepherds? It is hard to tell. On the one hand, we go out into the world and proclaim God’s good news daily. We tell others how Jesus through the Holy Spirit is with us in the world. On the other hand, we are terrified like the shepherds were. We are called crazy or false prophets. Proclaiming the good news that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, walks in the world with us is scary business. No amount of theological trains you for those scary moments where you have to proclaim what the world considers unlikely, unrealistic, a naïve belief. Still the wonderment of the unexpected good news that Jesus is in the world makes us want to share it with everyone we know. The wonderment keeps us worshipping the God the Father who is in the world with us through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The wonderment keeps us proclaiming the unexpected good news. The wonderment of a virgin giving birth to a baby boy who will one day die for our sins makes us want to share the good news. The wonderment keeps us engaged with two thousand year old story.
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said 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.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them” (Luke 2:15-20 NRSV).
How do we announce Jesus’ arrival into the world today? The unexpected good news seems impossible. How can we expect anyone to believe us? The shepherds believed the angels, went and saw the baby, and returned to their fields praising God for what they had heard and seen. We, too, can praise God for what we see and hear through the historical witness of Scripture and through the belief in our hearts. The unexpected, seemingly impossible good news is possible through the Lord.
Go out into the world and proclaim the unexpected good news that the Messiah is born today. Shout the unexpected good news on the street corner, over your phone, through a video, or through [whatever “it” is] you do to share news. Fear not! Go out and testify just as the shepherds did so long ago.
Come, O Lord, come!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for sharing the unexpected good news of a baby boy being born to a virgin in a stable. Help us to trust the angels and lead us to the manger. Remind us of the unexpected good news of the angels. Thank you for making the unexpected and unrealistic possible. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- What would you do if you were among the shepherd, hearing the angels’ proclaiming the birth of the Messiah?
- How do you announce Jesus’ arrival into the world?