Advent Week Three: Joy on Sunday, December 13, 2020

From Fear to Wonder (adapted from the Salvation Army in Canada’s Christmas resources)

Have you ever been terrified? Or been visited by an angel? Today’s Scripture tells us about some people who could say “yes” to both those questions! Luke 2:8‐20 says, “That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’, he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign; you will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’ Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’ When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.”

During Advent, we are encouraged to reflect—to think a bit more intentionally about all it means to us, and to the world, that Jesus Christ was born. The shepherds’ experience on the hillside was one of great fear, it says in Luke 2. The sudden appearance of an angel of the Lord, and many more angels besides, must have been incredible. Yet when the angels left the shepherds, Scripture tells us their fear was gone; in fact, they seemed excited to go to Bethlehem, to “see this wonderful thing that has happened” … namely, the Messiah’s birth. This year, as you go through Advent, try to put yourself in the place of those shepherds. Can you try to imagine what happened to them? Can you take the journey with them, from the hillside and the angels, to the manger and the baby? The very thing that may terrify you, or be too big for you, or seem impossible for you, may be the beginning of a journey to finding out what “wonderful thing has happened” in your life. Jesus came to bring that change to our lives, and he continues to change hearts everywhere, even today.