A Birth Announcement: God with Us! ©

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”  May this great birth announcement ring out in homes, be twittered and tweeted in our communities, blogged about on websites, sent in our emails, and zoomed around our nation and world!

Click on the video below to hear a special Christmas message from Bishop Lowry.
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I love Christmas music!  Really, who doesn’t love the great carols of the Faith! 
 
“Silent night, Holy Night, All is calm, all is bright.”
 
“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,”
 
“O Come, All Ye Faithful, and of course “Joy to the World!” 
 
But perhaps one of my favorites is a lesser known Christmas carol sung by the group GLAD. The song, which debuted about 20 years ago is entitled “In the First Light.”  The opening words announce the incredible truth of God with us.
 
“In the first light of a new day
No one knew He had arrived
Things continued as they had been
While a new born softly cried.
But the heavens wrapped in wonder
Knew the meaning of His birth
In the weakness of a baby
They knew God had come to earth.”

(Glad, “Acapella Christmas”)
 
This is the good news, the gospel, of which the angelic chorus so gloriously sings. Luke the physician reports the birth announcement in his gospel with overflows from the page.
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.” 
Then and now the angelic message speaks to our deepest fears and highest yearnings.     
 
The first to begin to understand were just shepherds, common working people in their fields.  Shepherds were the lowest of the low and poorest of the poor. They were considered unfaithful, irreligious, because they had to work on the Sabbath. Yet, it is to poor shepherds that the glorious Good News of God’s loving entry first comes. You’d think the Lord would have more sense. If God is to enter life in human form, we might imagine the Lord would do so in a better place with more educated and spiritually mature folks. But no, this Bible story of incredibly good news, of a God for us and with us, not against us or indifferent, comes to those the world disrespects precisely as a way of declaring that God’s redeeming love is for all. Regardless of clan or race, of place or privilege, of age or station, of past or present, God enters the world in love through the baby Jesus for all.
 
Classically, all this is the doctrine of the incarnation. More practically, it is the truth of the birth announcement we celebrate on Christmas day. The shepherds’ response is illuminating. The Bible reports,
The shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.
Linger on those holy words. They “found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.” We too are invited to come and join the shepherds. This birth announcement is for us and for our disease and disaster riddled world. We too are invited to come, kneel, and know that God is with us.
 
The rest of the song “In the First Light” announces the good news of this time:
As His mother held him closely, It was hard to understand
That this baby not yet speaking, Was the Word of God to man.
He would tell them of His kingdom, But their hearts would not believe
They would hate Him and in anger, They would nail Him to a tree.
But the sadness would be broken, As the song of life arose
And the First born of creation Would ascend and take his throne.
He had left it to redeem us, But before His life began
He knew He'd come back not as a baby, But as The Lord of ev'ry man.
Hear the angels as they're singing, On the morning of His birth
But how much greater will our song be, When He comes again to earth
When He comes again
Hear the angels as they're singing, On the morning of His birth
But how much greater will our song be, When He comes again to Earth
When He comes to rule the Earth!
When He comes back,
When He comes back To rule the Earth!
 
Hear again the angels this day. The birth announcement is for you. God is with us and coming back to rule the earth.  May this day and this season find you with the shepherds kneeling in joy, wonder, praise and allegiance.