There is nothing better than good news. It doesn’t matter how it comes, by mail, telephone, face to face, television, instant messaging… we love good news. Better still, is getting good news when it’s unexpected. We love surprises even more, if it is good news.
The birth of a child used to be one of the biggest surprises after maturation. For ten long months, mothers and fathers would imagine a world that included a son or a daughter. But after the application of ultrasound technology into the field of obstetrics some 30 years ago now, the gender of their children can be determined with certainty, while still safely tucked in the womb. This knowledge does come with a price… no surprise ending.
Speaking of surprises and the birth of babies, there is a wonderful story about a group of shepherds that includes both. This particular group of shepherds happened to be camping out in open fields while taking care of their flocks. In this place, there were no barns or pens or protection for their sheep unless they slept with them.
This was their lot. It was hard labor, not a job most people would choose but, they were doing it. They were working, working as usual… standing the night watch, not sleeping like everyone else but devotedly watching. Working and trying to eke out a living that would feed their families. It was a hand mouth existence, never getting ahead, and hungry all the time with no change in sight… No hope of rescue. Who would rescue? Who? Most would turn away, walk on by, pinching their noses in disgust. Those that spoke did so as an afterthought, not directly to them… they would say, “Walk faster…Let’s move, downwind…They smell, they smell bad”. Words that cut like a blade… The shepherds longed for a world that included them, respected them, helped them or at least made their job a little easier, a place where there was love, acceptance and a sense of community from the people at large.
Oh, they didn’t complain, because they had a job. Moreover, these shepherds weren’t independent contractors running a local business, they worked for corporate. They worked for the priests in town and the sheep they kept were special. These sheep were for sacrificing. They were to be used as an offering, for the forgiveness of sin, but yet they still wondered… why are we the ones always looking in even though we are working with the religious community we remain ostracized, never satisfied, always in need, searching for hope.
But it all changed, in an instant, like the snap of fingers…G0d showed up. God chooses ones such as these… lowly, humbled, weak, poor, dirty, neglected, shunned, in need… in need of rescue and searching for God, seeking satisfaction, a hope for today, tomorrow, and eternity.
God searches the whole earth looking for one such as these, those searching for Him.
God showed up. Gods’ shikinah glory was revealed in the appearance of an angel. God illuminated the cold, dark night with His brilliant and holy light and they were sourly afraid. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all people. For today, in the city of David, your Savior was born—Christ the Lord! And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
And if this wasn’t enough of a surprise to them, suddenly a great army of heaven’s angels appeared with the angel messenger, singing praises to God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased!”
When the angels back into heaven, the shepherds looked at each another and said, “Let’s go and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger. When the shepherds saw Him, God in flesh, they told all of what the angel of the Lord had said. And all who heard their tale, were totally amazed (Luke 2:9-15).
This was good news indeed and the shepherds after encountering God were never the same. Are you in need of God and searching for His rescue? Are you looking for an eternal hope for today, tomorrow, and for eternity? Are you looking for cleansing and forgiveness? God has shown up. He may not have come to you in the form of an angel or in His full glory as He did for the shepherds, but He is here nevertheless. Don’t be afraid. God is tenderhearted, merciful and can cleanse any dirty heart. Good news has come!