The Christmas shepherds were in the fields doing what they did every night when the weather was warm and the sheep had been sent out for the season. They rarely went into town during this time of year. Often, even their supplies were brought out to them so they didn’t have to leave the sheep to go get them. It’s important to try to picture the scene in order to grasp the significance of the event that was about to take place. For the shepherds, this night was absolutely no different from any other night in the fields. They weren’t expecting anything at all. That’s when the angel appeared among them. We almost always picture the angel with wings hovering above the shepherds in midair. It may not have been like that at all. He may have simply appeared in their midst looking just like a human being. The dead giveaway was that “the glory of the Lord shone around them.” The very next words in Luke’s gospel can be literally translated, “and they feared a mega-fear.” These men were stricken with a terror greater than any terror they had ever known! Then the angel said his first words, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy…” That was a real relief! There was a superstition that had been hung onto for generations about supernatural appearances. It was believed that any spiritual manifestation was a sign of certain and rapid death. In other words, people believed that angels only brought bad news. These men were terrified because they were sure they were about to die! But the angel continued, “…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!” He had brought good news! Good tidings of great joy for all the people; even them! This was good news, not fearful news! By the end of their night’s adventure the truth of the angel’s message had turned the shepherds’ fear into joy! They had met their Messiah, the Christ!
In these last few days before Christmas, let us remember the message of the angel. He brought good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Like that herald angel, we have been given the privilege of proclaiming the good news as well. Let us not be fearful or hesitant to tell it because it is the message of great joy. People around us don’t really know what joy is. All they know is a shallow form of happiness and empty fun. We have the good news that fills a heart with joy. And let us not ever forget that our good news is for all the people! Spread the news widely and broadly. Tell the story of the angel and his news and let them all know what Christmas really means!