I was out for drive tonight and drove through one of the local parks and just had to stop and admire the beauty of the night. The old fashioned street lights scattered throughout the park cast a reddish hue on the snow while off in the distance other, newer lights cast a blue light in that area. It was so still and quiet, and today was pretty stressful and hectic, so I just parked the van and after snapping a few pictures I just sat and enjoyed the quiet solitude of a cold winter night in the park. I found myself thinking about Christmas, and then on the Biblical account of Christ's birth... especially the part where the angels announced Jesus' birth to the shepherds:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
This is one of my favorite parts of the story of Jesus' birth. I find it so utterly cool that the Angel of the Lord came to shepherds who were tending the sheep out in the fields. You have to understand that shepherds at that time were among the lowest of the low in the ranking of society. Yet God chose them above all others to be the first to hear the news that they were loved and that the Savior was born and lying in a manger. He chose them, just as he chooses us. I am so thankful that while I was an outcast of society, a strung out sinner who had trashed his life and was on my way to prison and feeling as if I had no reason to live, this same God once again reached out to one of society's lowest and he told me that love had come... for me. The King of Kings came, not only for the elite or "desireables" but the angel's announcement was to show that Jesus came for all... even those of us who might seem to be less than desireable. Rich or poor, black or white, we are all the same in the eyes of the Lord. This was the significance of this announcement... at least to me.
Today, we struggle with the relevancy of Christ's birth, and too often allow it to be buried and forgotten under all of the commercial aspects of the season. But for those who have heard the message, it has all the importance in the world. A Savior is born. God lived as we did, and then when his mission on Earth was finished, he sacrificed his life so that we might have everlasting life.
This is hope. This is peace.
This is Christmas.
I believe that this is still a story of great importance, even in 2010.
Is there any other story that offers such hope?
I have to wonder... rather than singing about Chestnuts Roasting, and a magical snowman or a man in a red suit... shouldn't we be raising our voice with the Heavenly Host and shout: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests"?