Message Delivered Christmas Eve 7pm
People throughout history have made all kinds of announcements: A wedding, birth of a first child, mile-marker birthday like 40, 50, 70, 100, or even a retirement party. Whatever your big news might be, how do you pick the most effective way of getting out the word? You can go the traditional route of sending engraved announcements or invitations by “snail mail,” which shows you took a meticulous effort OR you could send out an “E-vite,” or a “Save-the-date” notice through Survey Monkey.com. You could post the announcement on social media like facebook or twitter. Whatever it is that you want to announce, choosing the right strategy to get the maximum impact is critical.
So…if you are God, and you have a huge announcement to make, how do you do it? On Christmas Eve, God made the most important announcement the world has ever heard. We have gathered here this evening to hear it once again, spoken through the words of prophets and the song of angels. We have come to hear the announcement about the birth of a baby in a manger–not just any baby.
John writes that Jesus is “the Word” of God who became flesh and dwelt among us. God was posting this announcement long before it actually happened. Research shows that it takes at least six iterations of a message before people actually hear it and respond. God has done due diligence. God started announcing the birth of “God’s Son through Isaiah 600 years before it happened, using various media, but the message was consistent throughout, the key to maximizing the impact and spread of an announcement.
It is good to have a spokesperson who keeps the message consistent and focused. It is clear that God goes right to the best: prophets, angels and even shepherds. Their message is consistent and commissioned by God alone. God chose Isaiah to send a message of peace, salvation and redemption through the lens of Jesus, God’s perfect messenger. Jesus is the one completely accurate, worthy and consistent to take Israel’s message of hope and mission of suffering on himself, carrying it all the way to the cross.
The good news about the baby in the manger is that He is God in person, the one bringing the message, who will make it a reality. Jesus is fully human and fully divine. Jesus is and was a Key Message.
Isaiah offers three Key messages to the Israelites in exile: peace, good news and salvation.
- “Peace” was essential to a people who had been torn apart by war and captivity.
- “Good News” was like healing balm for people who had endured nothing but bad news for so long.
- “Salvation” meant that God would again reign over God’s people, who had been ruled by many tyrants.
Jesus’ birth announcement that the angels gave in dazzling light and song to the shepherds on that first Christmas Eve was:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, peace among those whom he favors” (Luke 2:14).
“I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10).
“To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
The message about Jesus was pivotal to that message that he himself embodied and proclaimed: Jesus taught his disciples to offer peace to those they met (Luke 10:5) and his first message after his resurrection was, “Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36). Jesus preached the good news of the Kingdom of God, that God’s salvation, reign and rule was coming upon the earth. Jesus embodied the work of salvation through his healing ministry, by casting out demons and by loving and interacting with those who lived on societies’ margins. The Messenger was the Message. As Christians we have work to do:
–Live and proclaim the peace of Christ wherever we go;
–Share the Good News of the Kingdom with whomever will listen;
–Live as though God’s reign and rule has already been fully realized on the earth.
When we do these things, we begin to embody both the message and the messenger.
The baby who arrived helpless in a manger will grow to be the one who turns the bad news of our sin into the good news of his saving grace on our behalf.
We know the end of the story–a Savior triumphs over sin and death. The Big Announcement was made to a bunch of shepherds in a field in a little known village, that a baby was born in a barn. God has spoken to us through his Son. There is no bigger announcement than that!