Advent 4.3: The Joy of Good News

Light all three purple candles and one pink/red candle.
Read: Luke 2:8-20

 “In the same region there were 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.” (2:8-10)

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I’m always amazed at how amazed people of the Bible got when they encountered an angel. I can’t think off-hand of one instance in which an angelic encounter did NOT result in fear and trembling. Most times the humans hit the ground as if they were dead. The shepherds at work in the Bethlehem fields were no different. When an angel of God stood in their midst, they hit the deck in fear. But the words of that heavenly messenger created another emotion inside them — an emotion that led to swift action: joy.

Usually, angelic news was troubling or perplexing. I think of Daniel’s amazement at the angel’s futuristic news recorded in Daniel 10. Then there was the disturbed heart of Abraham, who pleaded with the Lord’s angel (or maybe God Himself) to spare Sodom after being told it would be destroyed. But the early angelic announcements of the Gospels were joyous messages. The angel Gabriel told aging Zechariah he would have a son in Luke 1. Then he told Mary about her impending pregnancy. And an angel told Joseph about the glorious pregnancy in Matthew 1. Now an angel tells the shepherds that the glorious anticipation has ceased for the messiah had been born.

And they acted in response by rushing to Bethlehem to meet their newborn King. Their joy was put into motion, and as they returned to the fields they told everyone who would listen about the messiah’s birth. It was joy turned into action. As Isaiah said 700 years earlier, “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news!” First it was the angel, then the shepherds. And now it is up to you and me. Have you shared the joy recently? Will you try harder to do so in the near future?

Be God’s.

Sample Prayer — Our Father in heaven, we light this candle to thank You for Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, who brings us great joy. We thank You that just as the messenger brings good news of great joy, the gospel of Your Son has brought joy to the hearts of many who were without hope. Help us, Father, to rejoice like the angels rejoiced when Your Son took on flesh for our salvation. And let us rejoice in His holy name. Amen.