Team Rector of Boston the Rev Alyson Buxton, spreads her blessings in this Christmas column.
Luke 2 8-11 says this In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Do we believe in Angels? Gregory age 5 does - he said, ‘I only know the names of two angels ‘Hark and Harold’. Henry age 8 has a bit of a different take. He said ‘My guardian angel helps me with maths but is not very good at science’.
The scriptures tell of the angel of the Lord appearing to a group of shepherds at night who are sat on a hill taking care of their sheep.They were understandably terrified and the first thing the angel had to do was to calm them down so they could hear their game changing message.
The angel told them to ‘Fear Not’. How could they possibly fear not with a sky full of bright, big heavenly beings who were talking to them? In our day and age how can we possibly ‘fear not’ when the world seems such a ‘fearful’ place?
Do you, like me, sometimes dread what the days news will bring? Whenever we turn on the radio, television, computers, mobile phones or read the papers we have to deal with so much bad news. 21st Century living requires having to cope emotionally with so much immediate and worldwide information: 90% of which seems to be about murderous atrocities, climate disasters, war, sickness and so on.
Do we think the ancient world, the world of these shepherds was different? Was it a much more peaceable place? Although the Ancient World did not have our worldwide social media, and therefore the people did not have to emotionally engage with such a plethora of news, it was still an unpredictably violent and unforgiving world. The ancient world was dominated by the philosophies of fate, determinism and despair. A common Epitaph read ‘I was not, I was, I am not, I don’t care’.
The ancient or the modern world - the angels had/have to do the same thing. They had to calm us down so we can hear the message - which is that regardless of what is swirling around us we are to FEAR NOT.
Christmas can be used as a mid winter escapism but it is far more profound than that. In the midst of the dark of the season, in the midst of the pain of broken relationships, in the midst of sickness, in the midst of grief, in the midst of violence, in the midst of all of human darkness, the Christ-child is born.
In the dark of night a group of angels break through and their brightness and heavenly glory fills the sky to herald the eternal message ‘A Savior has been born to you!’ Fear not - hope for the world has been born, we say no to hate - and yes to love, we say no to hopelessness - and yes to hope, we say no to doubt - and yes to faith!
So this is Christmas? Answer: Yes.
Eternal love was born this day, Hope for the world was born this day. The Saviour of the world lives. Fear not for the Christ child has been born.
Blessings to you and all who you love this Christmas time.