I hope you all had a blessed Christmas!
We had a white Christmas here in northern Nevada with snow falling lightly since early afternoon.
At Christmas Day church service, the focal scripture was Luke 2:8-20:
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 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.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, 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. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (New International Version)
The pastor had some interesting thoughts on these verses. He mentioned that every time an angel appears to someone in the Bible, the person is terrified. And the angel always says “Fear not!” before delivering a message from God. In present times, our sins separate us from God, which causes many people to see Him as terrifying. But the Bible tells us that God loves us so much that He found a way to save us from our sins without violating His holiness: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) and “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8b)
The minister likened God’s gift to an inheritance from a long lost relative. You did not do anything to deserve the inheritance and you have the choice of accepting or refusing it. We did not do anything to deserve God’s forgiveness, but it is ours if we accept it; we can also decide to reject it.
The shepherds chose to believe the angel and go to see the Christ child. Their faith was rewarded when they were the first to see the newborn baby. They went away from the stable rejoicing that God had spoken to them through the angel.
The angel said his news would bring great joy. We can have joy in our souls despite the bad news that seems to multiply each week. God’s message to us is the same as the angel gave the shepherds: go and see the Savior. We can find Him in the pages of the Bible. Then it is just a question of whether we will rejoice in the good news or go on living without Him. It’s up to you.