That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their flocks. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified!
But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough!”
Then all at once, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praised God, singing:
“Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.”
When the choir of angels disappeared back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go! Let’s hurry and find this Word that is born in Bethlehem and see for ourselves what the Lord has revealed to us.”
So they ran into the village and found their way to Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in a feeding trough.
Upon seeing this miraculous sign, the shepherds recounted what had just happened. Everyone who heard the shepherds’ story was astonished by what they were told.
But Mary treasured all these things in her heart and often pondered what they meant.
The shepherds returned to their flock, ecstatic over what had happened. They praised God and glorified him for all they had heard and seen for themselves, just like the angel had said.
— Luke 2:8-20 (The Passion Translation)
The most joyous news the world has ever heard!
This week, some of us were out star-gazing shortly after sunset to catch a glimpse of the “Bethlehem Star”, and others of us were catching the latest update on the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations or relief legislation — and yet others were trying to figure out whether Christmas presents they ordered would be delivered in time.
We are so busy. So busy. Even in a pandemic, when our social functions are limited.
Sometimes I stay awake extra late in my house, just to have quiet time to still my mind. It’s usually full of the day’s events and overflowing with what’s in store the next day.
When I read the account of the birth of Jesus given in the book of Luke, I really like to focus on the shepherds out pulling night shift, looking after their flocks in the countryside.
Imagine what that would have been like, to have the quiet of the night interrupted, sitting in a dark field suddenly lit up in the blazing glory of God.
Imagine what that would have been like, to be visited by an angel (our Christmas tree toppers are a poor image for what they must have seen!) in such a visible way.
And, just imagine, this creature blazing in the glory of God, gives you the biggest breaking news headline of history: Not some vaccine that will save us from a pandemic. Not some compromise economic rescue package hammered out in negotiations.
No. It’s the most joyous news the world has ever heard. No one has to stand in line or be in a certain income bracket or fit a certain demographic.
It’s The Rescue for everyone!
I imagine that in their shoes, after I picked myself up from the ground, I would also have run to see the evidence — and then run through the streets of Bethlehem and the countryside, spreading the news.
Jesus didn’t come to me as the book of Luke tells. I came to Him, walking up to an altar instead of a manger. All the same, He is my Rescue, my Peace, my Hope.
Of all the news I have shared with others in my life, He is truly the most joyous news I can ever share.
— Email Andrea Howe at firstname.lastname@example.org