“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:1 ESV)
There are two stories that we talk about at Christmas: one involves Father Christmas, snow and presents – it is a complete fabrication (apart from any perceived link between an overweight red suited gift bringer and an ancient Saint called Niclaus); the other is Real, Remarkable & Relevant.
The story in Luke’s Gospel is rooted in cold hard fact.The story begins with the background surrounding the birth – it specifies times and places and people. These are the hallmarks of a genuine history, not a fairy story. The birth and life of Jesus is a fact.
The birth of one child in the middle of such a time of upheaval is entirely unremarkable – what is remarkable are the events that accompanied this particular birth. We are told that an angel came to the shepherds and announced the birth as one bringing Good News. This child was, and is special. His birth fulfilled many promises that God had made to His people and would bring about the means for salvation and reconciliation to God for all people! This news was so remarkable that at the conclusion of the announcement the entire heavenly host burst forth into spontaneous praise and worship! Now that is remarkable!
How is this relevant to us so many years later? The announcement was made to ordinary people – shepherds – because the message is for “all the people”, that’s you and I! The need for people to be forgiven and reconciled to God is just as urgent today as it was 2000 years ago. The great news is that Jesus has promised to return, to claim those who have responded to the loving gift of His life for our sins, to take us to be with Him. That will also be real, and remarkable – I trust it will also be relevant to you…