by Paul Zabel
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!”
It is hard for us to imagine, isn’t it—the full effect of the message of great joy that the angel shared with the shepherds. We are told that after receiving this message of the Saviour’s birth, they went with haste—that they actually “hurried off”—to find the baby Jesus. And after the shepherds had seen the baby Jesus, they “spread the word concerning what had been told them.”I cannot imagine the shepherds doing this without great joy in their hearts and a skip in their step, so to speak.
During the time of our Saviour’s birth the Roman world was experiencing what was called the PaxRomana (Roman Peace), a period of time marked by external tranquility. However, the angels proclaimed to the shepherds a deeper, more lasting peace than that: a peace of mind and soul that was only made possible by the Saviour. A peace with God received by true faith in Christ as one’s Lord and Saviour from sin.A peace that is within those upon whom God’s favour rests.The same peace that our Lord Himself promised again and again to His disciples. A peace that also came with the conflict of the sword, as true peace with God also involves opposition to Satan and his work.
The angels proclaimed to the shepherds a deeper, more lasting peace: a peace of mind and soul that was only made possible by the Saviour.
We all have opportunities in the course of a day to make others happier. We may never know how significant the effect might be on others, simply because of the positive and cheerful attitude we extend to people as we meet and greet them in the course of the day. Someone has suggested that the wonders a smile can perform are limitless. He tells how he stopped at a certain restaurant in the downtown section of a city. On the outside it looked very inauspicious, but inside the proprietor’s son beamed at him as he filled the water glass, and the waiters appeared happy that he had come in for dinner. The proprietor behind the cash register thanked him profusely for his visit asking him if everything had been all right. “The effect of this,” he said, “is a glow of friendliness all over the place.” And then he goes on to say, as though it was almost incidental, “And the food was very good, too.”
If one is a Christian, one cannot help but be radiant. No matter how dark the circumstances of life may appear, there can always be a song in our heart that gives evidence to others that we are trusting in a loving Father who will never let us go, no matter what circumstances we might find ourselves in. Even if we are not prospering materially, even if circumstances beyond our control or those of our own making are being used by the devil to destroy our relationships with others and our dependence and faith in our Lord and our God, we can still know and depend upon the never failing love that God has for us!
It is true that we must constantly seek to rebuild the world beginning in the communities in which we live. Likewise, it is true that we should courageously battle for social improvement that others might have better living conditions and more equal opportunities. But, even beyond these ideals we must discover the only One who can truly give us great and fear-free living! “Fear not” the angel said, “for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”
Rev. Paul Zabel is President of the East District of Lutheran Church–Canada.