Christmas: God's Open Season
Some time ago, I told you that in her 1983 classic, Canadian artist Anne Murray sang,
I rolled out this morning
Kids had the mornin' news show on
Bryant Gumbel was talkin' 'bout the fighting in Lebanon
Some senator was squawkin' 'bout the bad economy
It's gonna get worse you see, we need a change in policy.
How I want to hear the anchor man talk about a county fair
And how we cleaned up the air, how everybody learned to care.
And everybody loves everybody in the good old USA
We sure could use a little good news today!
Bryant Gumbel may not be there anymore, and the old senator may not be longer there but “We sure could use a little good news today!”
So here is the good news. God hasn’t given up on us. For “Here are the news of great joy: Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Please note that according to the gospel, such major piece of news was not delivered in the palaces of “those who matter” nor in the homes of the religious elites of the day.
Once again, God reveals himself among those who society and the religious institutions sidetracked.
Pastor Bill Sytsma, writing in for the “Today” devotional webpage, writes that “In ancient Israel, shepherds were generally considered ‘unclean’ in the community of God’s people because of the work they did. They were in daily contact with dirty, smelly sheep, their manure, their blood from cuts and scrapes, and the insects that buzzed around them. All of this meant that shepherds were almost never clean enough to worship with God’s people in God’s presence. So, they were generally treated as outsiders.”
Further, at the time, rabbis considered that the shepherds’ testimony was not admissible in any proceeding. So, no wonder that when the shepherds went into town to share the Good News so many couldn’t believe it – “They were shocked.”
Except Mary. Mary knew what the shepherds said was true. And Mary knew that, in a way, God used the shepherds to confirm once again what she felt in the spirit. She was blessed, indeed.
Today, like two thousand years ago we announce to the world that the long-expected Savior, Jesus, the Christ was born today, two thousand years ago.
Jesus, the Savior who came us to reassure us of God’s favor, mercy, grace, and love.
Jesus, the Savior who came into the world to call us his friends, to embrace us and to bring us back close to God’s heart.
Jesus, the Savior who came into the world to lay his life for our sins – even before we could even think about changing our self-destructive ways.
I know; like two thousand years ago, still too many think this kind of news is too good to be true – especially since so many religious leaders still impose heavy burdens to weary and aching souls.
So today let me invite you to feel reassured of God’s good will towards all of us, unqualified as we may feel, for God so loved us unto death.
C’mon! Let us sing and rejoice! For Christmas is, after all, God’s open season.