I bring you good tidings of great joy

January 7, 2008

Pastor George Koivukangas, Laestadian Lutheran Church, Cokato

Dear neighbor, this joyful Christmas message is for you.

The lowly Christ child, lying in the manger, has been given onto you – He, who is the Son of God, Jesus, the king of kings, the savior of mankind, your personal savior. For as the angel said, “For onto you is born . . . a savior.” Luke 2:11

“And the angel said onto them, ‘Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For onto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10, 11

It must have been a miraculous sight on that first Christmas night. The darkness of the night was changed into the brilliance of the light and glory of God, and in the midst of it, a vast multitude of angels, praising and singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14

To whom was this glorious appearance given to see? As the king and his subjects slept, the lowly shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks by night. Onto these frightened shepherds, the angel appeared, comforting them, telling them to “fear not,” and giving them glad tidings of great joy.

They saw the dreary, dark night lighten by the glory of heaven and its angels, and the greeting of God to mankind. These shepherds were the first to see the fulfilling of the promise of God.

The lowly shepherds were moved in spirit at what they had seen and heard. The Bible testifies, “They came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in a manger.” Luke 2:16

Not only did the spirit of God move them to “with haste” seek out the Christ child; but also it moved them to proclaim the joy that they experienced to their fellow countrymen and neighbors. “And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” Luke 2:17

Someone once questioned why Jesus was born in a lowly donkey stable, and his first bed, a manger. Our gracious God approached mankind in this lowly fashion so that all could come onto him. Even the most wretched and poor sinners could come near and hear the gracious words which He spoke, “Thy sins are forgiven.” Luke 5:20

The same sweet message of the gospel of our Lord Jesus is heard yet today, preached through his own. “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.” Romans 10:15, Isaiah 52:7

The wondrous message of joy, which the angels brought onto us, proclaims salvation onto mankind – onto you, dear neighbor.

He has conquered sin, death, and hell. He has shown onto us grace and mercy and the way to heaven’s throne. Through his merit work, salvation is ours to own.

The Bible reminds us, “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

As the songwriter has written:

“If only in the manger of my afflicted heart,

By grace, this child, forever, would dwell and ne’er depart.

O little child of Christmas, the greatest Gift of love,

O guide my earthly pathway to heaven’s home above.”