A Christmas Devotion

December 15, 2008

Luke 2:8 - 14, "And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'" (ESV)

The fear of the shepherds in Luke’s Gospel is something that has always been an intriguing element of the Christmas story. The angels are bringing the good news of Immanuel, and rather than receive it with open arms the shepherds respond with dread. Why is this?

Essentially, there is more to their terror than the dark-piercing physical brilliance of heavenly light in earth’s dark sky (although that would certainly be frightful, too).  It seems that the cause of the fear is the radiance of the glory of the Lord.

On a spiritual level, the shepherds are now face-to-face with the majesty of the Creator of the universe. In a fundamental spiritual sense, their fear is that of the heart. We are reminded of the first fear of Adam and Eve: "But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, 'Where are you?'  And he said, 'I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.'" (Gen 3:9-10)

The fear of the Shepherds is only assuaged by the subject of the angel’s announcement – the birth of Jesus Christ. This is not merely any proclamation about just any baby. This is the announcement of the birth of a King. Not an earthly king, but a King who would conquer and rule fearful and rebellious hearts of men and women who look to him in faith.

This is a reminder we need to hear today, as much as they needed to hear it the first time. With the daily news stories of more political, economic and financial fear and unrest – we can rest and be delivered from fear and uncertainty, because Jesus Christ was born, crucified and resurrected to bring us back into relationship with our heavenly Father.

As Paul reminds us in Romans 8:14-17, "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him." (ESV)

During this season of Advent, draw near to God and his promises through his promised deliverer, Jesus Christ.

Join us in our prayers for all the faculty, students and staff during this season to celebrate the incarnational coming of the Kings of kings! And know our prayers are always with you, our deareast friends in Christ.

- Rev. Greg Hobaugh, Dean of Students and Ministerial Formation