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Fear Not…

December 20, 2011

We have an angel on the top of our Christmas tree.  Essentially, it’s a doll holding two light bulbs in its hands, with a giant opening at the bottom for the top of the tree.  It’s not an intimidating figure by any stretch of the imagination.  And I’m convinced that our little Christmas tree angel is nothing like the real thing.

 Take a moment…if you will…and read through Luke 2:8-14.

 We don’t make a big deal about turning on the tree lights…it’s more of a case of us just hoping they all work.  But even if we did sort of a Griswold drum roll before we hit the switch, I don’t think anyone would stand in fear when the angel lit up.  But that’s exactly what we see in the Scriptures when an angel lands on the scene.  We saw it with Mary in the first chapter of Luke when she was greatly troubled and Gabriel said, in verse 30, “Do not be afraid.”  And we see it here in this text where it explicitly says, “They (the shepherds) were filled with fear.”  We may not know exactly what they look like…but when the angels show up…people become afraid.

 This angel of the Lord who spoke to the shepherds came with a message.  That’s the other thing the angels do in the Scriptures…they are messengers.  So they don’t just fly around.  They aren’t into making appearances just to show themselves.  Angels come with a purpose.  Angels come with a message…and they don’t spend a lot of wasted time just chit-chatting.  They get straight to it.

 And so as much as people like to speculate about what angels are…who they are is really defined by what they do.  Angels deliver messages from God.  And this message is really the heart of our faith.   So after comforting them with the trademark angel greeting…”Fear not”…this angel delivers the “good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”  And that good news is this; “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  12 And this will be a sign unto you: you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  That’s the message…the Gospel. The good news isn’t that a baby was born (although that is wonderful news).  The good news is that the Savior was born…that Christ the Lord was born.  And then, I love the next two verses.

 Many of us have heard this story so many times that we’re just sort of numb to it.  We’ve been inoculated to the story.  Do you know what I mean?  We know just enough of it that we never actually get it.  But at this moment…upon the pronouncement of the arrival of the Christ child…at this history defining moment in time…the angel can’t contain itself.  And the other angels…the multitude of heavenly host…they can’t hold it in any longer.  So they just break into song.  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  I didn’t even have to add an exclamation point for emphasis…it’s in the text.  This is their response to the good news.  This is their response to the grace of God.  This is their response to the Creator making good on His promise…holding true to the covenant.  They praise Him.  You see, they know what this means.  They know that hope has come to the people of God.  They know that at that moment, the one who came to fix this world is resting in the arms of His mother…in a stable…in Bethlehem.  That night, the earth trembled…not with fear…but in joy.  The savior has come…redemption is here…Glory to God in the highest.  Let that be our response.  Selah.

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