Good News of Great Joy

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. ”  Luke 2:  8 – 14

It’s always nice getting those phone calls from afar, isn’t it? Scott called on his way home from work last night, and we enjoyed catching up on his and Emily’s news. But more importantly, he wanted news from us. He knew “Charlie Brown Christmas”  had aired the night before, and he wondered if we had talked to Miles and Cole, and if they had told us they had seen it. He was anxious to hear what they had to say!

This brought back so many memories of him and his Charlie Brown days. He loved those TV shows, the comic strips, the characters, and all it entailed.  What fun they all brought him as a child and what lessons he learned about life. No matter how many years go by, I don’t think he’ll ever tire of reading them!

And nothing would please him more than for the boys to love these characters as much as he does. It made me smile to remember him watching the show over and over during the Christmas season, and even all year, and of course, I would have to stop and watch too!  I especially remember Linus reciting these beautiful verses from Luke in their Christmas play about the shepherds and “the good news of great joy” they had to tell all who would listen.

What a wonderful image this passage gives us, and what good news it was to share! God Himself had come down to earth to live among us in the form of a baby to be our Savior and Lord. As you read these passages, it’s almost as if you can sense the excitement among the angels, as they proclaim the birth of our Messiah to the shepherds. Their words are filled with rejoicing, wonder, and awe as if what was happening was almost beyond human understanding.

It was then, and it still is today. What an amazing story of God’s love and hope. The angels must have understood what was taking place and why God was sending them to bring these good tidings to a group of lowly shepherds sleeping out in the fields with their sheep rather than to dignitaries or royalty. They were bringing a message of hope, peace, and light to a world that was filled with darkness and despair.

We can imagine that night after night these shepherds must have gazed up at a magnificent, star-filled sky, and had seen little out of the ordinary. But on this night, they became an audience to the glory of God shining about them with the most radiant host of angels praising Him. How astonished they must have been at the sight before them and to hear the news of our Savior being born in a manger.

The shepherds immediately left for Bethlehem to see this miracle child that had been proclaimed to them. And when they had found Mary and Joseph and had seen the baby for themselves, “They spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. . . The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”  Luke 2: 17 – 20

What a lesson we can learn from the shepherds and that is to keep pursuing the good things God has ahead for us. And may we capture some of those things in our hearts, just as they did, that make Christmas so special. May we appreciate – not just the sights and sounds  – but the awe, wonder, and joy of a Savior who has touched our lives with His love and grace.

Prayer

Dear God, we are still in awe of the story of Christmas and the miracle of our Savior’s birth. May we, too, be like the shepherds and long to tell others of “the good news of great joy” and continue to seek your presence and love. We praise you, and give you all honor and glory for the peace and hope the gift of your Son brings to a lost world.  Amen

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