How do you react when you have good news to share with other people? Certainly, I shocked a couple of family members when I went in the house a different way because that way had been close, damaged for some time. I showed them that the new way was there and ready. There was shock and awe. There was celebration and a little bit of anger that they weren’t clued in. This is not unlike what we have happening through the story of the birth of Jesus and God coming near to us; in a way that we could understand. It took a lot of work and setting up for things to happen – centuries of people following God, failing and falling; of being disobedient and petulant. It all started with Abraham, and the call and life of one man and his family.
The trip of one family – a husband and wife to the man’s ancestral home was down right difficult. Walking about 75 miles over difficult roads while face weather and potential robbers, growling people because they too are on their way somewhere else – families, businesses, lives and countries in chaos all because Rome wants its taxes. When the young couple found their destination in Bethlehem (House of Bread), the Town of David, there was no room for them to stay in the Inn. So, they found a place in a stable, bedded down for the night, and made things as comfortable as possible.
That’s when it all happened, Suddenly, boom! An angel came and announced that the baby was born. But it was not to someone powerful, or to a king or queen that the angel went. It was to the poor and the outcast shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem – message: Boom! Glorious bright light during a time real darkness and then a message from Gabriel and the Message Department: Do not be afraid! To you in a certain place, at this moment a child is born for you and to you this sign will be given to you – he will be found in manger wrapped in rags and laying in a manger. Like a cymbal crash, the birth of the timeless Son of God into human history happens, shattering the rhythm and hum of our meager existence.
The shepherds left their flocks in the care of God to see the sight that had been proclaimed to them. They went. They saw. They worshipped and gave praise to God as they returned to their lives and livelihoods. It is what I hope for you this Christmas – you came, you saw Christ and you go home praising God, ready to come back and do that again and again.
Not everyone reacts to the news of the birth of Jesus with joy. Some where amazed and terrified like the shepherds. There are those who would be baffled like the people of Bethlehem at the commotion. There are some who are amazed and become angry like Herod the Great.
The greatest thing that can happen in this moment is not a change in position or in place – but rather a change in spirit. Like Old Ebeneezer Scrooge, who after he ponderous and more than slightly disturbing night, is overjoyed to discover he has not missed Christmas but rather that he gets to enjoy it as a redeemed man and the chance to make mankind is his own business.
We too need to come to the manger to see the Child, to enjoy his presence and then to return to our lives changes people – different because we have encountered the Christ and because of that we can never be the same again. The mundanity of human life is now beside upon by the entrance of its Creator.
This message comes not just to the shepherds, to the people of a small town or even to a young couple, it also comes to us. To you is born this day, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord. You will find him if you seek him. The wise always do. We must come. We must see and we must add our voices to the myriads who are praising God for the wonders he is doing.