Luke 2:8-12 – The angels announce Jesus’ birth to the shepherds

In that 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. 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: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”

Joy - Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

This passage is full of contrasting images – the squalid earthiness of the shepherds stands out against the dazzling “glory of the Lord” illuminating the angels; the sense of immediate terror and fear emphasizes the reassuring promise of “good news of great joy.” These contrasts affirm the magnificence and magnitude of God’s gift to the world: “a Saviour, who is the Messiah the Lord.” This is cause for exuberant joy, lifting our hearts up to the heavens, singing perhaps till our lungs ache. The contrasts also highlight the gracious nature of our faith – dazzling glory is offered to all of us, no matter our circumstances; and the joy of God’s love can permeate every life – alongside, and supporting us through, fearful and despairing times. This joy is not dependent on transient bursts of happiness or even a steady beat of contentment. This joy – that we are loved and blessed and forgiven – can persist through our toughest days, whenever we remember to accept it.

Wondrous God, You love us fully and completely, and that is cause for great rejoicing. Let us praise and worship You with unencumbered hearts. Help us to throw off the bands of inadequacy this world would have us wear. Wash away our uncertainty and despair, and renew in us a spirit of joyful gratitude. Amen.

Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2019.


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