Who doesn’t enjoy delivering good news?
“Your cancer is gone!”
“I’ve got two tickets to the game, and one’s got your name on it!”
“The IRS says they’re the ones who made the mistake!”
For some time the news had been bad for the original Christmas generation. Emperor Caesar Augustus had commanded a census to be taken to deepen taxation in his realm. His puppet King Herod the Great built palaces and fortresses all over Israel by exploiting the poor. Politicians “on both sides of the aisle” protected their power rather than seeking justice for their people.
That was when an announcement came in the night to shepherds from a backwater village called Bethlehem.“Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people. You shall find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10).
The shepherds went to see what had happened and then told “everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child” (Luke 2:17).
In the words of the song, “Go tell it on the mountain — over the hills and everywhere!” Christians are those who believe in Jesus and herald the joyful news that is for all people.
Something happened at Christmas that changed the world for good. Not everyone knows this. Some cannot bring themselves to believe it could be so. Others turn the announcement into an argument to be made or a philosophical position to be defended.
All is forgiven? God is with us? An everlasting future of glory and goodness awaits us beyond death? We feared we were out, but now we are in?
The woman at the well would say so (John 4). Zacchaeus would shout it from the top of his sycamore tree (Luke 19). The centurion at the foot of the cross believed it at the last (Matthew 27). The Apostle Paul spent his life announcing the news across the Mediterranean world from Jerusalem to Spain (Romans 15:19). Countless martyrs have suffered death rather than act as if it were untrue.
The Gospel is such good news because we find safety for our minds and hearts within its wisdom. It calls us out of our small spaces and selfish ambitions into the larger world of peacemaking and justice begun by God Himself.
It provides the soul an ancient anchor when the present is in disarray. It connects us with those who have preceded us all the way back to Adam.
The Gospel is the deep narration of the universe, the story that makes the best sense of things when you really pay attention to it.
Everyone doesn’t believe it yet, and we have not always told it with the elation and winsomeness it deserves, but thank God it persists from generation to generation like ocean waves that work their power on our sandy hopes and rock-hard fears until we change for good.
Russel Jarvis has lived in Hancock County since 1989 and has served as the lead chaplain at Hancock Regional Hospital since August 2003. This weekly column is written by local clergy members. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.