“A Story of Hope and Good News”

Dec 24, 2022

The Scripture

Luke 2:8-20


The Shepherds and the Angels

Now in that same region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,  and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them, 19 and Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them.

The Sermon

Why is this nativity story so important to our faith? Hearing again about the shepherds, the angels bringing good news of great joy and then this child, this child, who the angel says, “comes to save.”  I think that is a good question to ask tonight as we gather here to celebrate the birth of Jesus, why is this story so important? And what does it tell us about God? Esau McCaulley, assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College pondered these questions in an article he wrote titled Christmas is Weird. He was remembering his own story of Christmas past when he was very young, a poor boy dreaming of getting one of those Power Wheel Jeeps…a gift that he knew was beyond his parents’ financial ability to provide. Every Christmas he woke up to the reality that his was poor. But he dreamed anyway. One Christmas morning he and his family headed to his grandmother’s house for Christmas dinner and there sitting in the driveway with a red bow attached to a Power Wheels Jeep. It has been a good year for his grandmother. You see she was a gambling addict and played illegal lotto. Esau writes that he has always consider that lottery a Christmas miracle, evidence that God had not forgotten the little Black boys and girls in my corner of the world.

It was a Christmas miracle for the shepherds, for Mary and Joseph for the Magi who will later find their way to the manger. It was a miracle for these poor, isolated, displaced, homeless, and rejected group of misfits. People outside the inner circle of wealth and prosperity. Esau later reflected on this Power Wheels Jeep and that Christmas miracle. “And so, it is not so unexpected that God would reach into my neighborhood through the gamblers and the addicts, drug dealers and misfits. They were the ones who shoved $20 bills into my hands when I didn’t have lunch money. They told people to leave me to be because they saw potential in me when I didn’t see it in myself.” This is the Christmas story…a story that includes everyone. It is a story of hope and good news. And we tell this story again each year so we can be reminded that God is still at work in this world of ours, God is at work through everyday people, even those we might consider irredeemable. God is at work right here and now so that poor children will have a chance to overcome generational poverty, that the injustices of this world can be righted. This is our story that brings hope and good news for everyone, for everyone who needs to believe that things can change, that God’s reign can bring wholeness and prosperity to a broken people. This is a story that calls for action, for we are participants in this story too, we are called to live out our faith in ways that we join with God in making this hope and good news a reality for all God’s people. This story reminds us again that we believe in a God of miracles, a God who fulfills dreams, a God who cares about the lowly, the misfits, the outsides. We believe in a God who equips us to be active agents helping to fulfill the dreams of others. We must not let fear hold us back. Remember the words of the angel, “Do not be afraid, for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” Amen