Advent 2021: Triumphant Culmination

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It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious song of old, from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold. Peace on the earth, goodwill to men from heaven’s all gracious King. The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.

I’ve never been pregnant, for obvious reasons, but I’ve had several friends and family members who have. Based on conversations that I’ve had with them both during and after the pregnancy the common theme seems to be that it can be a grind, especially as it gets closer to the due date. Even though the journey can be long the excitement of bringing a new human being into the world and beginning the process of raising the next generation can be an especially joyous occasion, one that is often marked with some form of announcement. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a social media post and other times it’s a little more elaborate but none of these will ever compare to the announcement that was made the night that Jesus was born.

Luke 2:8-14 tells us that “in that region there were shepherds living in the fields, watching their flock during the night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. Then the angel told them, ‘Stop being afraid! Listen! I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people. Today your Savior, the Lord Messiah, was born in the City of David. And this will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough.’ Suddenly, a multitude of the Heavenly Army appeared with the angel, praising God by saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to people who enjoy his favor!'” (ISV) Put yourself in the place of the shepherds for a minute and imagine what that moment must have been like for them. You’re out in the wildness minding your own business and all of a sudden there’s a bright light all around you, the skies open up and angels begin singing a song of praise to God. Once everything goes away you begin to realize the gravity of what just happened. How would the shepherds respond? Luke continues, “when the angels had left them and gone back to heaven, the shepherds told one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what has taken place that the Lord has told us about.’ So they went quickly and found Mary and Joseph with the baby, who was lying in the feeding trough. When they saw this, they repeated what they had been told about this child. All who heard it were amazed t what the shepherds told them.” (2:15-18, ISV) Although mostly uneducated I would imagine that these shepherds had heard the stories and prophecies but like even the most devout of Jews in that day it’s entirely possible that they had begun to doubt whether God would deliver on his promise of deliverance.

The Bible is a story of redemption which began after the Fall and culminated on that night more than 2000 years ago. The night that a gracious God reached down out of heaven and provided a way out of hell for us, not because he had to but because, in his infinite love and mercy, he chose to. The arrival of Jesus changed everything. With the birth announcement to end all birth announcements God reminded humanity that he was still listening and still working for our good.

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