“I bring you good news of great joy…”
(Luke 2:10 ESV)
The Christmas displays have been in the stores since just before Halloween. The Christmas music has played non-stop since Thanksgiving. I noticed a strand of lights have gone out on my front porch last night, but I don’t know if I’m going to fix it. People seem less willing to stop and talk, they’re too busy shopping, sending cards, preparing for Christmas. I haven’t said it yet, but I know that a “bah-humbug” is working up inside of me.
This Christmas I’ve been preaching through the story from Luke 2:1-20, that very familiar story of Christ’s birth. Even if you’ve never read the Bible, you know this passage, because heard it proclaimed every year at Christmas while watching Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special. We’ve heard the message proclaimed, but do we buy it?
I heard a prayer of confession once which stated: “We confess to you that the good news of Christ no longer sounds new to us nor even so very good. We confess we are a jaded people. We have heard the old stories before. We have heard the songs before. We see the Christian life as a burden rather than as your gift to be celebrated.”
How many of us have come to that point? We’ve done all this before, there’s nothing newsworthy here. We’ve sung the songs, but nothing changes. We’ve given the gifts, but people just seem to want more. We get caught up in the busyness of celebrating the season that we forget the whole point. We talk about celebrating Jesus’ birth, but treat each other like his life has no bearing on ours whatsoever.
Maybe part of the problem is that we really haven’t heard the Good News yet. Yes, we’ve heard the words, but we haven’t really listened to what they mean. This passage from Luke 2 ought to be earth-shattering, life-changing news. God has chosen what the world would say is ridiculous and absurd, a poor Jewish family in an obscure, oppressed village, to enter into our lives and turn the world upside down. God has sent His beloved Son to take away our sins, to be our Savior, and to bring us peace – and all because God loves us!
That’s right. God loves you, in all your broken, muddled, confused, and doubting ways, and sent His Son to die for you, so that if you will only believe in Him, trusting in His righteousness for your salvation, you shall live with God forever! There is nothing more newsworthy, nothing filled with more goodness, than that.
My prayer for you this week is one that may not sound very pleasant, but here it goes anyway:
God, upset our lives. Shake us from the sleepy pious boredom and spiritual neglect that has lulled us away from your powerful, life-changing, good news of great joy. May we never again be complacent when it comes to your good news. May this Christmas be a time when we discover again the joy of the new life you have given in your Son. Amen.