“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14
If you’ve ever played with a jack-in-the-box, you know it loses its fascination after just a couple of rounds. We know the song. We know the note right before the thing pops out. We know what it looks like. We don’t even jump.
I wonder sometimes if the Christmas story has become like a jack-in-the-box. We know everyone’s lines. We know the songs. We know what happens. We don’t even react anymore.
Think about this for a minute though. You’re just doing your job. It’s a regular old boring Thursday, just like hundreds of boring Thursdays before. Your job’s not great but it pays the bills. There you sit.
And an angel of the Lord appeared.
Somehow, I don’t think something like a flashbulb went off and then a guy in a white robe was there. (If you don’t know what a flashbulb is … please don’t tell me.)
And the glory of the Lord shone all around.
The shekinah glory, the shining majesty that accompanies God’s presence shone all around these guys. The glory that shone on Sinai. And on the mount of transfiguration. When the glory is revealed, we respond in confession, praise and worship. And sometimes… terror.
And they were terrified!
Why? The shepherds knew they were encountering the representatives of a holy, righteous God. They had an Isaiah 6 moment. “Woe is me! I am undone!” They understood, at least on a gut level, that the only outcome for a sinful man in the presence of God’s glory was death.
And instead, God says peace. Shalom. Peace, His blessed favor. No longer an enemy, but reconciled to His family.
This world needs the glory and presence of God. My, how we need it. The birth of Savior, redeeming mankind … those are glorious. The angels understood that. In fact, a multitude (more than they could count) of the heavenly host (the armies of heaven) couldn’t restrain themselves. They had to praise God for this amazing peace with sinners, sinners with no other recourse or hope to approach a holy God. That peace began in earnest with the birth of Jesus.
So in this season, maybe we need to focus more on the glory of God, the way the angels did, rather than what a thousand cheesy television specials will tell you “Christmas is all about”. Maybe that’s what we need to share. Maybe it would go something like this:
Actually Christmas is all about God. He loved first. He paid the price. He gave the gift. He showed kindness to the unlovable. He invited the worst of us to be part of His family. In fact, I was one of those He showed kindness to. The best way I can thank Him for that gift is to offer it to you.
The good tidings are for all people! I’ll be praying you meet up with those who need them!
Next week: Shepherds