The Bible says that an angel of the Lord reassured the terrified shepherds who had just witnessed the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounding them as they were tending their sheep in Bethlehem (Luke 2), “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem.”
It is somewhat surprising that this amazing announcement of good news was made to some simple, humble shepherds rather that the leading religious figures of the day. There weren’t any CBC or CNN reporters there. This is encouraging in that God uses ordinary people like you and me to do his good work. He comes to anyone who has an open heart and an open mind, to anyone who accepts him by faith.
The Good News didn’t stop with his birth. During his ministry here on Earth, some 2,000 years ago, Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the hungry, loved the needy especially, the poor and oppressed, and he preached and taught the Kingdom of God as an alternative way of living. In the end, he gave his life for all, that all may enter the Kingdom at the end of the era.
The Good News continues today. We are still called in each generation to live that Kingdom Way by loving God above all else, and by loving our neighbour as our self. Perhaps this Christmas season we shall moved to love one another, to forgive, and to show kindness and goodness in our acts as God wishes, and to work for peace and justice in the world and to be good stewards of God’s Creation. Besides, as DNA results are showing, we are all related. We are all connected to one another. We might be like Cousin Brucie (Sirius radio, ‘60s on 6, Wednesday, 5 pm. and start calling one another “cousin.”
One other note: It is interesting that the angels were present bringing this good news to the shepherds. And they were full of praises to God. Do you believe in angels? I do. I believe them to be all around us, including guardian angels who watch out for us. We sing about angels in most of our Christmas carols. They are more prominent than we might have thought.
The birth of Jesus and the presence of angels at the birth have inspired innumerable hymns over the past 2,000 years. Even nature gets involved. One such hymn says, “Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o’er the plains, and the mountains in reply, echoing their joyous strains: Gloria!” Another hymn says, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come… And Heaven and nature sing!”
May each one of us be encouraged this Christmas season by the Good News of God’s amazing grace and love!
Rev. Martin Garniss
Knox United Church, Manitowaning
Fairview United Church, Tehkummah
St. Andrew’s by the Sea United Church, South Baymouth