The Road To Christmas - 1 - It’s Good, It’s Good, It’s Very Good
Over the last 10 days or so there has been an unfolding good news, bad news story which has touched the lives of many people.
Good News: For the first time in 12 years, the band U2 would be putting on a concert in New Zealand! Die-hard fans camp out overnight on Auckland streets and line up outside New Zealand Post shops to purchase the coveted tickets at the strike of 9 am.
Bad News:: The tickets sell out within 90 minutes, and people learn that scalpers have spent up large and are now selling said tickets on TradeMe for ridiculous sums of money.
Good News: Some people get revenge on said Scalpers on TradeMe by putting in dummy bids of many thousands of dollars which effectively stuff up the auctions.
Bad News: There are still heaps of scalpers who make megabucks while the average garden-variety Bono and Edge supporter luck out.
Good News: Promoters of the concert say that they will refuse entry to people who have bought scalped tickets.
Bad News: How on earth are they going to identify who has bought scalped tickets?
Good News: Promoters confirm that there will be a second U2 concert after the first one.
Bad News: Mmmm … watch this space…
The fact that U2 were coming to Aotearoa was seen by many to be incredibly good news. Many went to significant discomfort and hassle to get in on this good news.
Christmas – sometimes we forget that we are celebrating GOOD NEWS!:
LK 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 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. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ n the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." LK 2:13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, LK 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." LK 2:15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." LK 2:16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
What would the shepherds say about how we celebrate this GOOD NEWS event?
1. It will change your world … if you respond to it.
People are cynical of good news.
Remember hearing about group of university students who conducted a study.
They set up a table on the footpath of a busy shopping centre, and laid out on the table a whole heap of $2 coins.
They wrote signs saying ‘Free Money’, and as people walked past they called out to them from behind the table: “sir, ma’am – would you like free money? Get your $2 hear – no strings attached.”
Can you guess what happened?
The vast majority of people walked right on by.
Because we are cynical of free stuff?
We don’t want to disturb our “NORMAL”
The normal has the power to stop all responding, all risk taking, all change making. And it has the gravitational force of a small planet.
Even something really good will often be rejected because it disrupts the normal flow of things.
Problem: when something really good and really free comes along, our loyalty to the normal keeps us from responding.
I wonder if the attraction of the normal was strong for these shepherds. I imagine it would have been a night just like any other for them. They would have been sitting around telling baaad jokes, and looking a little sheepish … maybe trying to fleece each other in a game of cards or telling stories to pull the wool over the others’ eyes
God issues a bunch of very ordinary guys an invitation – “come to Jesus”
And they said “Cool! OK.”
LK 2:15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
Now sure, they had seen this amazing pyrotechnic display of angels boggying down … but do you think they would have said “Hey, what about the sheep?”
The news of Christmas is GOOD STUFF! So great, that sometimes I scratch my head and wonder – why aren’t more people getting in on this awesome thing?
I wonder if stepping out of the normal is too great a jump for many people.
Tragedy cos this GOOD NEWS has the power to transform your life, just like the shepherds … but only if you respond.
- It will motivate you to tell … if you believe it.
About 6 years ago there was an ad on TV which really captured the imagination of a lot of people.
It was an ad for AMI insurance and it showed how one small party held by a girl while her parents were away from home for the night grew out of control because the news of a party spread from person to person.
Right throughout the whole town, the sentence on everybody’s lips was …
There’s a party at Kelly Browne’s -
It was a great success for AMI. In fact it was almost too successful, because a certain publican down in Cambridge called Dean Risi decided to call his new pub ‘Kelly Browne’s Place’, which AMI wasn’t happy about at all. When asked why he chose this name, Mr Risi said that the AMI ad captured the atmosphere of excitement and fun that he wanted his drinking establishment to become known for.
AMI, of course, took out legal action against him.
But the power of this ad is that it shows how good news travels naturally.
Seen a great movie? Heard an awesome new song on the radio? Got a great new CD? Read a gripping novel? What’s your reaction?
You have to tell others about it!
The shepherds also showed this natural law.
17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 1
These smelly shepherds were the first Christian evangelists in the whole world
I have felt guilty so many times about not opening my mouth to share Jesus with others.
I was walking around Craig Avon Park on one particular day a while ago – it was part of my lunchtime fitness regime. Because it was lunchtime and I had to be back at work by a deadline I was walking pretty fast to get back home.
I walked past a bench seat that lay right beside the North-east entrance of Craig Avon and there was a young guy sitting on it – a Polynesian youth, maybe 16 or 17 years old. Just sitting there.
And I got a feeling in my gut that God wanted me to go over and talk with him. I can’t give you any scientific proof of this – but it was a strong compulsion inside me.
And as I was walking towards him, suddenly the gravitational pull of the Normal reached out and began sucking at me.
“God, I might freak this guy out, coming and sitting down by him and talking”
“God, he’s a big guy – he might freak me out if I start talking to him.”
And I walked right by.
The gravitational pull of the normal – or the ordinary.
But for me, every now and then I have to stop and go
‘Hang on … isn’t this actually GOOD news?
Shouldn’t I be sharing this stuff because it will be cool for people rather than because I’m feeling like I have to say it?
And you know what I’ve found? The times when I have talked about Jesus to others … when it came easiest, was when I talked knowing that it was Great stuff.
Just like Kelly Browne’s Party.
You get motivated to tell others … but only when you believe and know that what we are living and talking about is actually Good News!
- It will transform your life … if you absorb it.
Photo of guy with 3 shaven into his hairy back.
Here we have a guy who is such a supporter of truck number 3 that he has sacrificed a perfectly beautiful expanse of hair on his back to declare his loyalty for everyone to see.
He has absorbed into his very lifestyle – his very body – the one that he is championing!
There is something very noble about this picture isn’t there?
Sometimes we hear good news but remain unaffected by it – unchanged.
We respond to the good news – we check it out.
But it stays all out there. We feel the emotion. We have the ‘high’, but in a day or two we have forgotten all about it.
It hasn’t changed us.
The Shepherds don’t seem to have fallen into this trap.
They go back to their jobs as shepherds … but the take Jesus with them.
20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
I love this verse because it tells me that these shepherds had begun to absorb this good news into their lives.
The danger of celebrating Christmas every year is that it stays something out there. We’ve heard it all before and we remain unaffected by it.
There is one really good question to ask which can help us take the knowledge of Jesus with us into our everyday lives.
What does it mean for me that xmas happened?
- It will change your world … if you respond to it.
- It will motivate you to tell others … if you truly believe it.
- It will transform your life … if you absorb it.