Luke 2:8-11 – And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (KJV)
Christmas has become an increasingly trying time for me spiritually, what with the never-ending exhortations to buy; the often fruitless quest to find just the right gift for those who give you no guidance and the every increasing commercialization of everything associated with Christmas. It is enough to make one wish the whole season were over and done with before it is even started.
Several years ago, I was sitting in the company cafeteria eating lunch while the employee choir was exuberantly singing Christmas carols. I heard the words without really listening, as one usually does at this time of year. One of the carols, "Go Tell It on the Mountain" was especially loud and hard to tune out. Suddenly the chorus of "Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!" rang out as if I were hearing it for the first time. It was as if the shepherds' angel had appeared in my mind. Here was the true message and meaning of Christmas. Jesus Christ is born! The God of Grace has not forgotten us. He has given us a son in whom we can find redemption and salvation. As I listened to them finish the carol, repeating the chorus, I felt as if I had been given the best Christmas present one could ask for: the chance to share the shepherds' experience, their amazement and joy at receiving the news of God's wondrous gift.
Whenever, I feel overwhelmed by the pressures of the holidays or distressed by the incessant commercialism that threatens to totally crowd out its true meaning, I think back to that moment. I remember the words, "Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born", and the feeling of joy that I felt then and that I still feel each time I hear those words. That moment has become the light that constantly reminds me of the true meaning of the season and the reason we celebrate Christmas.
Prayer: God of Grace, grant us ears capable of hearing the message your angel proclaimed so many years ago. Grant us the faith to accept the message and the voice to proclaim, in turn, that "Jesus Christ is Born!" In his name we pray. Amen.