Isaiah 9:2-7 • Psalm 96 • Titus 2:11-14 • Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)

What is the best news you have ever received?

Let's think about it for a minute.....Good News.

What made it so good? What was different between the moment before and the moment after?

The moment you learned you were going to have a child? A grandchild? The moment you learned about a new job? The time the mechanic said your car wouldn't start because of a broken $5 part rather than a $1000 repair? The moment you learned the pain in your side was not cancer?

In many instances that I can think of, Good News often brings with it the promise of a brighter or better future. Good News brings hope. Good News improves a situation that is already pretty good. Good News brings light in to dark situations. Good News helps people move forward another day. Good News gives the future a future where maybe there was no future before.

In Isaiah we see Israelites who are excited about the reign of a new king. This passage refers to King Hezekiah coming to be the ruler of Israel. Often any new King was greeted with exuberance and excitement. And obviously his ascent to the throne brought with it some hope for how the future might be better than it is today.

The writer of Psalm 96 seems to be living with some Good News. His opening line is "sing to the Lord a new song". He has a motivation sing a new song because he has hope of a bright future loved and protected by a strong God.

In this passage of Paul's letter to Titus (one of Paul's early missionary companions) there is a lightness present. There is an optimism about the future based on the grace and salvation (for all) brought in to the world through the appearance and presence of Jesus Christ. The message is hopeful toward the future.

And when we look specifically at the passage found in Luke chapter 2, we see the primary recipients of Good News are the shepherds. Jesus is born and the first people to get the news (other than mom and dad and their stable mates) are shepherds. Now the life of a shepherd around Bethlehem was likely not that easy. They were essentially nomadic ranchers who were likely under the same Roman oppression as everyone else at the time. And the little town is not surrounded by flat land with lush fields of grass...it is rocky and hilly and likely took significant effort to feed sheep. And they were the first ones to get the Good News: "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. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger."

Imagine the effect this Good News might have had on them. Imagine what sort of a vision of the future might have opened up for them on the side of that hill that night.

As we prepare to remember the birth of Jesus of Nazareth,
May the futures of all people be filled with the hope and promise of Good News.
May you live today in a way that helps to make the Kingdom present here today.
May all beings be filled with the Grace and Peace of God.

© matt norvell 2011 www.settingourstones.org we want to share
this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that
you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be
with you.

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