Advent 2016 (Week 3 - Jesus is Good News for Everyone)
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 that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” Luke 2:8-14
Good news of great joy for all people!
That was the message announced by the angels to the unsuspecting shepherds that night. Makes a nice change from the news we hear most days. And it’s so… complete. Good news! Good news of great joy! Good news of great joy for all people! The birth of a baby is a life-changing event for new parents, and most births are joyful occasions. But generally, they’re not announced by a choir of angels! Heavenly beings got involved at this birth because this was not just a life-changing, but a world-changing event. A cosmic event. Hear the description of the future reign of Jesus from the prophet Isaiah: A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11.1-9 Through Jesus, God invites us into a new creation, that is not only eternal, but will also be whole - unbroken. A life beyond death in which all things will be made new. It’s GOOD NEWS because it’s what we need. It’s JOYFUL news because it’s what our hearts yearn for. It’s what our world yearns for. It’s what we were made for. And it is offered to ALL. Good news for those who need justice. Good news for those who need peace. Good news for those who need safety. Good news for those who need rest. Good news for those who need. Great joy awaits. Listen: Isaiah 11, by Rain for Roots.
Reflect/Discuss: • How do you respond to this passage from Isaiah? • Do you believe in such a future? • Does the message of Jesus seem like good news to you? • Where do you find joy? • How does knowledge of the future change the way we live in the present? Pray together: What do you need from God today? The joy of knowing him? Faith to believe in this future? Strength to stay the course? Ask God to provide what you need. Light the Candle. As you light the candle, one of you might like to read these words: “Joy is like a light shining in a dark place.As we look at the light of this candle, we celebrate the joy we find in Jesus.”
Hannah Craven is an Anglican minister in a church in North Carlton - on the fringe of Melbourne city. Wife to Tom & mother to Liam & Amber.