Is there anything much sweeter than a baby announcement? Who doesn’t love receiving a card in the mail with the pucker-faced picture of a relative or friend’s new arrival? I enjoy posting such proclamations on the fridge, eagerly sharing the good news with any unsuspecting visitors who may walk through my door.
So it was when a baby announcement reached a Judean hillside long ago. Only, this message didn’t arrive via a rural mail carrier. It arrived with an eruption of light via a heavenly angel. Friends and relatives weren’t the recipients, but a band of frightened, uneducated shepherds watching over their flocks.
In an age before virtual reality, high-tech light shows, and extravagant pyrotechnics, they were terrified! After dispelling their fears, the angel said, “I am brining you good news of great joy for all the people” and proclaimed a heavenly birth announcement, “To you is born this day… a Savior who is the Messiah, the Lord,” (Luke 2:10-11 NRSV).
Not just any baby, this was the long awaited rescuer whose arrival had been foretold from the beginning of time. The one sent to free humanity from fear and darkness and death. Talk about great joy! And not just for these humble shepherds or for the Hebrew people awaiting their promised Messiah. This was for all people. Everywhere. Throughout all time. Even today.
No wonder the sky filled with angels proclaiming, “Glory to God.” No wonder the shepherds hurried off to find the child. No wonder they couldn’t keep the news to themselves. After seeing this child, whom the prophets foretold, the shepherds shared everything they’d been told. Imagine them knocking on rough wooden doors, timber shutters flying open, bleary neighbors peering out. Why the commotion? Can’t you keep it down?
No, they couldn’t!
During this, the third week of Advent, let us join with the shepherds, sharing the message of Christ’s birth. Like them, many people live in fear today, sitting in darkness. Overwhelmed by doubt and grief and loss. Waiting for the light.
Although we all experience the dark, the good news of Christmas is that God’s light shines in the darkness. Gloom and misery, sickness and death don’t last. A brighter day is coming, one in which every tear will be wiped away and fear will finally be expelled. All wrongs will be made right. All sorrow and sighing will fade away.
Where is this light found? This hope?
In a baby, lying in a manger.
If you write Christmas cards, imagine you are sending a birth announcement of the highest order. Immanuel. God with us. The light has come! Then find a creative way to spread the good news. As we embrace the light, we become light. As we receive the message, we become messengers.
Meadow Rue Merrill writes and reflects on God’s presence in her everyday life from a little house in the big woods of Mid-coast Maine. Her memoir, “Redeeming Ruth,” releases in May 2017. Pre-order here.