I was preaching this past Sunday- Joy on the advent preaching schedule. I chose to look at the annunciation to the Shepherds- specifically focusing on the angelic proclamation ” I bring you good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10). The Greek “εὐαγγελίζομαι ὑμῖν χαρὰν μεγάλην” I found fascinating. εὐαγγελίζομαι is where the English evangelize comes from- the verbal form of the word for “gospel”. Wycliffe chose to translate this phrase “I evangelize to you a great joy”. The Angel is proclaiming the gospel if you will. The gospel is something we assume is in Easter- the gospel is that Jesus died for our sins. But the birth of Christ is gospel. It is in Christmas that we see the Kingdom of God penetrate the kingdom of this world in order to redeem it. Christmas is about redemption of our world for God as much as Easter is. This is what John was getting at in his gospel:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Christ’s appearance on the scene ushers in the Kingdom of Light. Upon seeing the infant Christ, the old man Simeon exlaims,
29“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
Can it be that Christmas is our salvation? Well, yes. Our salvation is in the person of Jesus- fully God and fully man; the reunion of divine and human. Yes, Easter is the fulfillment of all this, but salvation comes to mankind in Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God and Son of Mary. Our salvation somehow is mystically both rooted in a personal encounter with the risen victorious Christ and in the historical arrival of the infant Christ in Bethlehem. We can find the joy of salvation in an encounter with the infant Jesus. Advent is often connected with a sense of waiting and expectation of what God is “up to”. What if we chose instead to seek out what God did? Seek out the Saviour who is born. The Shepherds heeded the call of the Angel to go and see the one born a Saviour- and they left “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them” (Luke 2:20b).