Oh, what a night

By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston

“At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: ‘Glory to God in the heavenly heights, peace to all men and women on earth who please him.’ As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the shepherds talked it over. ‘Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.’ They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the shepherds were impressed.”—Luke 2:13-18 (MSG)

Amid all we face in our communities and in our own lives, the hope, joy, peace and love of the Advent season await us. In a season when every heart should be happy and light, many of us struggle with burdens that threaten to steal our joy.

The angel’s cry of “peace on earth” seems like more of a wish than a blessing. And those who want to sing carols and hear the Christmas story seem so small against the backdrop of a troubled world.

Throughout history, the good news has always been set amid world events as a promise that God works among that which seems small and insignificant to change the world.

My friends, God loves this world and will not give up on it; nor will God give up on us.

It’s an audacious claim that the birth of a baby in a small town could possibly matter. But this story is about more than just a baby. It’s about the Savior, the light of the world. It’s about Emmanuel—God with us. The longing of God’s people to experience God’s presence long ago is our longing still to experience God’s presence today.

On that miraculous night when Christ was born, the angel told the shepherds, “Do not be afraid.” But they were terrified. The angel persisted, saying, “Don’t be afraid, for I bring you good news of great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

And what happened next? The shepherds went. They didn’t stop to consider the economic impact of the decision. They didn’t take a vote, form a committee or request more information. They hurried off to Bethlehem and found things exactly as the angel had said.

Just as the shepherds experienced on that night long ago, we celebrate what God has already done for us, and we take time to remember that God is moving, God has moved and God is moving us. God is calling us to see and believe, and to tell the story to all whom we meet.

God doesn’t want us to become stuck—stuck in what was, stuck in the glory of what used to be or stuck in the memory of how things were. God’s desire is for us to be part of the new thing God is doing.

The true gift of the Christmas story resides in the promise that God really is with us and that we are not alone. Wherever God calls us to go, God also accompanies us all the way there.

So no matter the circumstances we face, Advent arrives, calling us back to the manger, back to God’s presence and back to the promise that we serve a mighty God who has plans for us. Plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans to give us hope and a future.

This year, in this season of Advent, amid the backdrop of a troubled world, we journey with anticipation toward Christmas. Despite all the distractions around us, we focus on the hope that exists because of the birth of the Christ child.

We anticipate the joy of experiencing God’s promise fulfilled, and in so doing, our hearts are prepared both to receive the greatest gift and to share it freely with

Get Periodic Updates from the Advocate We never sell or share your information. You can unsubscribe from receiving our emails at any time.