Time Out: Weekly quiet times for the youth worker’s soul.
(by Benjer McVeigh)
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a specific look at Advent through a series of posts with Benjer McVeigh
There is no season like Christmas that causes us to so readily alter the contents of the playlists on our iPod. For eleven months out of the year, a person who takes a quick glance at our song list or spends a few minutes with us in our car while we’re driving will probably have a good idea about our taste in music. But come December, once the last leftovers from Thanksgiving have been finished off, we get out those dusty Christmas hymns and sing along to the story of God in heaven, who humbled himself to be born in a dirty manger somewhere in the Middle East:
Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
It’s a scene so familiar to us that when we sing it, we usually miss the incredible magic of this moment. As shepherds tended their flocks, angels appear—almost out of nowhere—to tell of the King of heaven coming to Earth. Luke describes it like this:
“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.” –Luke 2:10
Bring. Good News. For all the people.
This revelation the shepherds received was truly revolutionary. Through the centuries, the Jewish people had developed a belief that their God’s favor was something they had to earn. Some branches of Judaism insisted on a strict adherence to God’s law—so much so that additional rules were added just to make sure they were well within the bounds of obeying God’s law. Other branches advocated continual temple worship, and an obedient Jew was to support the temple through offerings. And if I’m honest with myself, I also try to earn God’s favor in some way, whether it’s by following a set of rules that God never set up in the first place, or by serving God in such a way that surely he will be pleased with me if I only give enough of my time.
But the Good News that the shepherds were told of did not include earning God’s favor, or of ways for us to know if we were “in” with God. The angels simply told the shepherds that the Good News was for all the people. Though we did nothing to merit this act of amazing sacrifice, Jesus left heaven to live as one of us, to know our sorrow, our pain, and our struggle to live as God created us to live, and to die on the cross, that we might live with him in eternity. And the angels were the first to break the headlines. They brought the Good News that is for all people. Things have changed. Hope has come. And everyone is welcome to receive it.
Questions for Reflection
Read Luke 2:8-14, and put a small star by each word that surprises you, or that you wouldn’t expect to be there. Why do those words surprise you?
In what ways lately have you been trying to earn God’s favor?
What significance does the fact that the Good News is for “all the people” carry for you in particular?
Benjer McVeigh is a youth pastor in Ogden, UT, where he works with students in grades 9-12 and their families at Washington Heights Church. You can read more from Benjer at www.benjermcveigh.com
Posted on December 6, 2010