Good Tidings

Luke 2: 8 – 14           KJV

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Sometimes I just like the poetry of the King James Bible. How about you? This passage brings back warm memories of childhood for me. Like most children, I was very visual and I would imagine what the angel looked like. Did he/she hover over the shepherds? The glory of the Lord shone all about them. What did that look like and why in the world are we afraid when we see God’s glory? Then the angel was joined by the heavenly host. What is that? Of what and whom is the host composed? Were there more than angels present? Were there animals in the heavenly host or perhaps beings we have never heard of. What did that look like? Can you imagine?

The angel said to the shepherds, “I bring you good tidings of great joy.” Hence, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” You see there in the angel’s words that this joyous good news is for “all people.” What do you think of that? It may even include Muslims, or gays. Jesus came to reconcile the entire world and every person and creature in it to the glory of the Father. None are left out. Whether they know it or not, Jesus’ coming is even good news to the people who hate him.

The very first Christmas present was the Christ. This was the gift God gave us. In that gift, though, was the seed of the gift God wanted – you. Thirty-three years after the first Christmas, our God and Father sealed His wish in the first Easter service. When Jesus arose, God got his family.
I love that God’s plan involved sending a babe, born of a woman. He didn’t send a giant warrior, or the head of His legal staff. He sent a baby and that child had to grow up in this world. He lived among regular people and experienced all the things you and I experience and learn through. Jesus had to become a regular person in order to save people. He was completely at the mercy of his mother and father for his care. He had no God powers to feed himself or change his diapers. He experienced birth just as you and I. And think of this, Jesus was once a teenager. Ohhhhh! What was that like?

God’s perfect plan began with a precious baby born in a little town in the east. On that special night, wheels were set in motion that would change the world. The Father gave his only child to come to earth to be with us. That child had to grow and learn what it means to be human so that he could save all humanity.

This Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of the savior, try to put yourself in the place of those shepherds and experience the glory of God’s gift to us. Let your heart hear the angelic chorus singing Hallelujah to the King. Perhaps your heart will rejoice as never before. Be free and be happy. I wish you unparalleled joy this Christmas and God’s blessings upon you and your family. Merry, merry Christmas!

Hope Is Born

Luke 2: 8 – 14

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

I love the Christmas story and this passage of scripture specifically. In fact, it is one of my most favorite passages in the whole Bible. And yet … sometimes I wonder if I get lost in the poetry and the wonder of the event and miss the deep significance. 

As you may know, I spent the last several weeks caring for a loved one as she made her transition to heaven. So many times, both when she was in the hospital and later at home, I wondered what people who are without Jesus do in times of great trial and challenge. We were so obviously buoyed up by the prayers of friends and the grace of our dear lord. I would not like to try to endure that without the help of my dear Jesus. The other day it dawned on me that more was born on that Christmas morn than just a baby; more even than a Messiah and king. It dawned on me that hope was born on that precious morning. 

Humanity was lost and without a hope. At least the Jews knew there was a promised Messiah but the rest of humankind had no hope, no prayer. And while it sounds a bit crazy, eternal salvation just isn’t the whole gift. In fact, over the last six or so weeks it hasn’t even seemed like the most important gift of that blessed morn. No, to me, Christianity is so much more than my address in eternity. Christianity to me is my precious, beloved Jesus who is with me every minute of every day caring about every single thing in my life; he who cries when I cry, who laughs when I laugh; he who takes joy in some of the simplest things in my life; who will sit with me, ride my bike with me, who forgives me when I lose my temper and brags on me when I do something right. He is more than a brother, he is so much more than a lord, and more even than a Messiah. He is my breath. I appreciate that he paid the price for me to get to spend eternity in the company of God but I needed someone who would breathe for me, who would laugh for me, who gives me joy in the midst of great travail, who gives me strength when I have none of my own. I love him because he has breathed life and hope into this hurting and decayed world. He gives joy where there is sorrow and he is life. I love him because he first loved me and because he loves me unconditionally. He gives us hope of a future, hope of getting through the rough times. I have stood on, relied on, leaned on and believed in that hope. I have seen the love of those he calls his own and how his beauty shines through them like the glory of the Lord must have shone on that Christmas morn. 

When we were lost and without hope our Father sent us hope in the guise of a little baby. Never again is the world without hope, praise God. For all those who don’t know the Lord Jesus personally I pray that they would find him and be wrapped in his love and grace as I have been. For those without hope, I have this Christmas wish, that the personification of hope, Jesus, the Christ, will fill them with all the joyful anticipation of joy in the morning and that they would be filled with the courage and confidence that comes with knowing Jesus personally, not as Lord, nor as Messiah, but as best friend, confidant, loving brother, as hope and glory. This is what Christianity means to me. Take a deep breath, breath in hope and life. Let Jesus fill you heart and your lungs.

May your Christmas be blessed with a deeper revelation of and a more meaningful relationship with the Lord Jesus and may your heart be filled with hope and joy. Merry Christmas and God bless you.