“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,” (Luke 2:17).
Even though we Baptists have learned to join the larger Christian church and observe Advent during the four weeks leading up to Christmas, most of us don’t really wait until December 25 to celebrate the birth of Christ, do we? Like the rest of our culture, what we actually do is celebrate Christmas during the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, then, pretty quickly, move on to the next holiday, New Year’s.
But how does our encounter with the babe of Bethlehem change us? The Bible, especially Matthew and Luke, devotes a number of words to the events leading up to the birth of Jesus, but they also focus greatly on what happens after his birth.
Take the shepherds, for example. After the angel proclaims “good news of great joy” about the baby, and the “great company of the heavenly host” praise God, the shepherds go to Bethlehem “to see this thing” they have heard about.
And what is their response to this earth-shattering event? They “spread the word…” They proclaim the Good News of the birth of this special child.
Though the angel identified the child as the Messiah, did the shepherds understand all that entailed? Probably not. But that didn’t stop them from telling others about their experience.
When December 26 rolls around, instead of rushing to put up the decorations or plan New Year’s festivities, what if we took the time to proclaim the Good News of God’s coming into the world and into our lives, even if our understanding is limited?
I don’t know what form that proclamation can or should take. It will be different for each of us. For most Christ-followers, it won’t involve a pulpit. It might be in person or online. Our best efforts will include words and deeds. Without deeds, words have less power. Without words, deeds are subject to misunderstanding.
The best proclamation is always personal; that is, it will describe what the coming of God means to us, right now, even during this most different Christmas ever.
In fact, maybe our “pandemic Christmas” is the perfect time to extend our proclamation of the coming of Christ. With fewer distractions to get in the way, we might gain clarity on what it is we seek to proclaim, and we might find that folks more readily recognize their neediness and therefore are more receptive to our proclamation.
What should we do on December 26 and the days that follow? Maybe this is the year to continue our Christmas celebration with the proclamation of Good News for ALL.
– O God, help me not to rush too quickly past Christmas; instead, guide me to find ways, faithfully and personally, to proclaim the Good News of the Savior’s birth.