Tidings of Joy

The angel delivered good news of great joy because it was no legend, it was real, and messy, and wonderful!




We are 3 days out from Christmas. Are you ready? I’ve heard this as a customary greeting as of late- because we all know that there’s a lot to do to be ready for Christmas morning, it’s a common topic… You’ve got gifts to buy and wrap, goodies to bake, plans to make, details to finalize…

I can’t help you be ready for your family to open gifts or for everyone to come over for dinner, but I have tried to help you get ready this year to worship Jesus… I’ve tried to prepare your heart. This year we made a family advent devotional, put together a daily advent email, posted Christmas videos daily on social media, and covered the main ideas of advent.

We looked at Peace, Love, Hope, and today we’ll focus on Joy.

Good News of Great Joy

The passage of scripture that we read earlier in the service is where we draw our sermon from today, but we are just going to focus on the angels words in verse 10.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

I don’t know if you’ve been watching the news, but it’s been a really crazy week. Our President was impeached by Congress, however people so dislike Congress that many analysts think this impeachment process is actually strengthening President Trump’s re-election campaign. The impeachment proceedings will next move to the Senate, but most are confident the Senate will not concur with Congress because Republicans have a majority in the Senate and this whole impeachment process is being split down political lines.

So right now, we’ve got less than a week till Christmas and “the most wonderful time of the year” is full of political bickering like most of the year has been. During the impeachment process news agencies had their greatest TV ratings of 2019. The news is built on controversy. It is financially incentivized for there to be discord.

Bad news is good for business.

Outrage is big business. Good news doesn’t sell ads, Good news doesn’t draw in viewers, & Good news doesn’t move people to post on social media and argue. However, our text today is all about good news.

Good news changes the world.

The King James translation uses the word “tidings” but the original word is the same word we have for evangelism today, the sharing of the message of Jesus was equated with good news. This is important because the message was not a legend, it wasn’t a myth, it wasn’t a rumor. It was news. It was sharing of the truth.

In the Advent Email devotional that I sent out on Friday, we focused on the fact Matthew begins the story of Jesus life with a family tree, a list of the genealogy of Jesus. That’s incredible because it connects Jesus to all these figures who were leading up to the arrival of Jesus, people who had been given the promises of God again and again… But it is also wonderful because it sets the tone from the very beginning that this is the story of a real person, with real family, in a real place.

Christmas is no legend.

This is a time of year that people celebrate a lot of legends and make up their own. It’s a time of year of flying reindeer, elves on shelves, and it’s a time of year when our children have their picture taken with middle aged men they don’t know and we put it in a Christmas card. Can you imagine if we did that in July on vacation at Gulf Shores? Hey look, here’s a picture of the kids with a middle aged white guy with white hair and a white beard…. We stood in line and paid good money to have our photo taken with this stranger… Christmas is a time of corresponding legends, but the birth of Jesus is no legend.

This is not a story, it’s good news. It happened, thank God.

This is good news of great joy. Christmas is a time of joy, or not. It seems like Christmas is a time that supposed to be about joy and happiness but it becomes about busyness and stress. I saw a photo a couple of years ago that I thought encapsulated this feeling perfectly, and I was able to find it this year.

If you have ever tried to get a Christmas photo with small children, you know how real this feeling is…But! I love that these crying kids are holding the letters to spell out joy while their faces are clearly spelling out a very different emotion.

I think that’s what Christmas often is for people, for adults even who are better at hiding it, so their emotions are not so clearly written across their faces, but while they’re trying to spell out joy are feeling something quite different.

Joy in the middle of the mess.

The angel tells these shepherds sleeping in the fields with their sheep that there is good news of great joy, and the good news is that a baby has been born in Bethlehem and that they will find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, left over scraps and lying in a manger.

We’ve had 3 babies born to members of our new core group this year and I’ve been blessed to visit all 3 and their mothers in the hospital and pray over them and their families.

We have an incredible level of care for newborns these days, but can you imagine if any of these babies had been born at a time when there was no room at the hospital, the hospital didn’t have room for them and they didn’t get a hospital room but instead they were given a makeshift room of a supply closet, and because there were no more of the rolling cribs, the baby had to be placed in a janitors cart?

I guarantee there would be some words and they would not be joyful.

Jesus was born in a barn.

The Angels appear to shepherds and say, this is good news of great joy! It’s not that angel didn’t know… Sometime we say, this is going to be awesome and then we get there and we find out, okay, yeah this sin’t what I thought it was, this isn’t as great as I was hoping…. The angels knew, in fact the angel says, this is how you’ll know you’ve found the baby, he’s the one lying in a manger.

Mary’s room number at the hospital is stable 1. Right now there are some moms that are completely stressed out because you’re trying to make Christmas perfect. There are some dads sweating Christmas because the boss is gonna give you your Christmas bonus on last day of work and you won’t know for sure if you can afford what you’ve already bought until then.

Right now there are some grandparents just straight up made cause Christmas plans aren’t going the way you wanted them to… The angel brought good tidings of great joy and it wasn’t because everything was working out to be picture perfect…

Let’s make the application a little bit more board, to not only apply to this time of year…

Some of you think that you’ll really be happy once you get your life picture perfect, you’re putting a lot of stock in the new year because this is the year you are going to lose the weight, get the guy, become a manager, earn more money- you’re looking for that missing piece…

Once you get it picture perfect, then you’ll be happy and it’s a lie.

Christmas wasn’t picture perfect, but there way joy…

I was sitting with some of the Pastors of Evansville and one of the pastors of the large achurches was there and another pastor was kidding with him that none of us could compete with their insane mega Christmas services.

He kidded in response, I think we are advertising Mediocre Christmas this year… then he said, you know. That’s probably what we should go with… Mediocre Christmas.

Fear not, Behold – See what I am telling you…

The Angel says, Fear not, BEHOLD.

Look at what I’m about to tell you. See this.

The shepherds were afraid because they had been startled in the middle of the night by an angel. However, everyone who comes in contact with the glory of God is anxious.

Ever since the garden we’ve known that we aren’t enough. This fear and insecurity plagues us. It’s passed down from generation to generation.

The angel says, if you behold this news you won’t have to be afraid anymore.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Tim Keller says in his book hidden Christmas that to the degree we gaze upon this truth and take in this news, to that degree will all the fears of our heart be undermined.

When the Russians first sent a man into space the Russian premier Nikita Kruschev reported that there is no God because they had been to space and hadn’t seen him.

C.S. Lewis wrote an essay called the seeing eye in response which said that we can not see God by looking into the sky… that we shouldn’t think of God as the man upstairs who happens to live in an apartment that’s a floor above us… Rather God created this world and all the people in it.

He gave the analogy of Hamlet wouldn’t relate to Shakespeare by looking to the sky, the only way Hamlet could interact with the man who created him and his world would be if Shakespeare wrote himself into the play.

The only way Hamlet can interact with Shakespeare is if Shakespeare writes himself into the play.

The only way we can interact with God is if He writes himself into our world. That’s what Christmas is…

Look at that is what the angel is saying, look at what God has done, He has written Himself into your story, You can trust a God who is willing to do that for you…

God not only wrote Himself into the time and space of our history, He desires to write himself into the soul of our hearts.

Now that we have an understanding of just how vast the universe is, it really is preposterous to decide there is no God because we orbited our tiny blue dot and didn’t see Him.

That’s like when our kids say they looked every where and all they did was barely look up from whatever they’re doing.

They didn’t want to see…

Nikita Kruschev didn’t want to see, he didn’t want to behold.

Just two words and little ones at that,

Just six letters from the first one to the last.

Just two words – their power can be great,

Especially when they’re said to turn Someone away…

No Room, No Room, No Room.

Just two words in Bethlehem one night,

Turned away the mother of the Savior Jesus Christ,

Just two words, they’re echoing today,

Our lives are crowded so, and Jesus has no place…

No Room

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