From the Pastor's Desk

"It's Time for Angels Again!"

"An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them,"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:9-11

Can you imagine what it was like to be a shepherd when the angels appeared that night? There they were, going through another watchful, yet boring, night of watching over the sheep. They were tired, just trying to get through the night. Suddenly, the sky lit up! A heavenly host appeared singing! They announced that the long awaited Messiah had been born right there in Bethlehem! Once the vision disappeared, they had to have been puzzled. What did it all mean? Why did the angels appear to them, lowly shepherds? Did those angels say the baby was wrapped in swaddling cloth and lying in a manger? Why wasn't the Messiah born in the palace in Jerusalem rather than in neighboring Bethlehem? They had so many questions. The only way to possibly understand what had happened was to go find that baby and gaze upon Him. Even then, though they would have marveled at this baby whom the angels had announced, they would have returned to their fields sharing what all they had heard and seen but, at the same time, still puzzled at what it meant. They may have gone much of their lives never really being directly impacted by the baby they saw. Or, maybe, because they saw Him, they may have been the first to believe in Him.

Here we are over 2000 years later. The celebration of the birth of Jesus has been celebrated in one form or another for a very long time. Yes, other traditions have become part of that celebration and many people celebrate those traditions rather than the original reason for the celebration - Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, in many ways the world hasn't really changed that much. The people back then were oppressed, conflicts had been constant leading up to Jesus' birth and would continue long afterward. Followers of this Christ-Child would become harassed, persecuted and killed. So, in retrospect some might ask, "What difference did it make?"

I believe that for the shepherds, it initially gave them a sense of joy and a sense of belonging. Rather than being outcasts, they were not only included in the announcement, but they were the sole recipients. The only others who had any idea about the birth of the Messiah were the Wise Men who came possibly as much as two years later. But I believe the biggest benefit they received from the experience was the hope that would have stayed with them for the rest of their lives. Their circumstances may not have improved but at least they could hope that one day that baby would grow and wonderful things would occur which they could only imagine then.

Today the world has become a scary place. People around the world still battle poverty; terrorism seems to be rampant; illness pops up unexpectedly; violence and conflict have become every day events. I believe it is once again time for angels. It is time for another announcement of the Messiah, to a world that is lost and frightened. The thing is, I don't expect another visit by angels in the sky to let the world know that all is not lost. However, the announcement still must be made and if angels are not going to do it, it is up to us who believe and have faith in Jesus Christ to be bold enough to announce to the world that Christmas is more than Santa Claus, presents, and food. The world needs to know that the only real hope lies in Jesus, so celebrating His birth is essential to our future well-being. If we who believe will not make the announcement to the world, nobody will. The world will continue to be a fearful place that will only become more violent as people decide that the only weapon against violence is more violence. The angels announced "peace on earth." That peace is only possible through Jesus. Are you an angel?

-Pastor Howie