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Luke 2: 10              KJV

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

What was the good news the angel delivered to the shepherds in their fields at night? “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (verse 11).

Every year at this time, I ruminate on this passage and almost every year I write on it for Christmas. Poetically, this is one of the times I enjoy the Old English version. I’ve read it in a number of versions this year and one of the words which these translations have in common is the word “all.” The angel told the shepherds that he brought them good news of great joy for all people. What an outlandish and blasphemous statement. The angel went on to proclaim the birth of the Messiah, the Jewish Messiah. How then could this be great news for all people? Do you think the Romans thought the angel brought good news of great joy? What did the angel know? Was it a prophetic statement?

Upon the departure of the angelic host, the shepherds immediately went into town and found the baby and worshipped him. Even when they returned to their fields, they continued to sing and shout their praise for the Messianic babe. At the same time, wise men from the east noticed the star which heralded baby Jesus’ birth. These “stargazers” began to follow the star. They were not Jews. They were people who watched the sky for divine encounter.

What didn’t happen is that the angel didn’t appear at the temple. He didn’t show up in the middle of a prayer service shining in the glory of the Lord. Instead, the angel appeared to humble shepherds who were probably filthy for sleeping out in the fields with their sheep. The star beckoned easterners. What I love about this is that it demonstrates the angels’ proclamation that the good news is for all people, even those me from the east; even a group of filthy shepherds.

The good news is that Jesus came so that none should perish (John 3: 16). From Jesus’ first introduction into the earth, his ministry was to all people. What an awesome, wonderful, yet controversial beginning. Of course, ownership of salvation became a huge debate in Paul’s ministry and that debate even survives to our day. I believe, however, that God the Father, made his message very clear in the beginning. If salvation was only to the Jews, Father could have had Mary and Joseph introduced at court. Jewish officials could have found them room at the inn or in one of their own homes, for that matter. God didn’t write the script that way, though, because He wanted each of us to know that the birth of the miracle baby was for each one of us individually, no matter how lowly any of us may feel.

As I look at the nativity scene in my living room, I wonder about that Christmas so many years ago. As the shepherds left the humble scene where the Christ child was born among the donkeys and cattle, they proclaimed the good news to everyone who would listen. People flocked to that shelter to see the miracle; Jews and Gentiles, men and women, the hungry, the tired, the marginalized and kings. There was no guard at the gate permitting only the privileged or the chosen. All were welcome and all still are.

Yet, to this day, there are some who wonder if they are acceptable to the Christ. They don’t know if they are welcome to enter in. There may be people you know who don’t know that Jesus came to all. Maybe this Christmas, the miracle can be reborn. Maybe we can flock to the manger and give our hearts and go out shouting and praising the God who sent us His son.

Blessed be your Christmas. Blessed be your spirit. Be blessed in all.

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