Tidings of Comfort and Joy

There is nothing sweeter than announcing the birth of a baby.  We were graced to make three announcements ourselves as we welcomed our babies to the world. At Christmas I cannot help but imagine what it must have been like to be one of those shepherds doing his nightly duty keeping watch over the flock when suddenly an angel of the Lord appears shining in God’s brilliant glory announcing the birth of our Savior.  Luke tells us that the shepherds were “filled with great fear” (Luke 2:9). I would be afraid too! This is the usual response to angelic appearances in Scripture- fear. Even Mary was troubled when Gabriel visited her. But, Gabriel’s response to Mary was the same as the angel to the shepherds, which was “Fear not.”  The silence of God for hundreds of years was broken with this birth announcement:

“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 2:10-11).

I cannot help but wonder at this. Did Isaiah come to mind when the shepherds received this “good news of great joy?”

] The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
    you have increased its joy; …

6For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:2-3, 6-7)

Not only “unto us” was this child born, but unto the world: “You have multiplied the nation..” (Isaiah 9:3), “for all the people…” (Luke 2:10), “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14). I love how Christmas is for everyone who believes in Christ. Lowly shepherds, kings, the simple, the wise, Jews, Gentiles, the young, and the old. Everyone can find comfort and joy at Christmas, because of that birth announcement some 2,000 years ago- the barren, the lonely, the fatherless, the widow, the poor, the afflicted, and all who grieve. Joy is within our reach- this unspeakable, inexpressible joy that both comforts and stills us. As the old English carol “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” reminds us that Christ came to save us from “Satan’s power when we have gone astray.” So we can rest. So we can rejoice. So we can both receive and give tidings of comfort and joy at Christmas and always. So, dear friends a Merry Christmas to you and yours indeed!

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