Good News

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When thinking of good news in the context of Advent, it’s difficult to avoid the first thing that pops into your head…the angel in Luke who tells the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people…” But it’s what comes next that interests me, the choice of the words “for to you is born….”

Maybe because we are so event-oriented in our culture today, we tend to think of the good news of Christ’s birth as something that happened two thousand years ago—or that will be realized in some distant future when Christ comes again to claim us. We’re really good at focusing on it once a year during Advent, but not quite so good at living it during the year. We put away the Nativity Scene in January, and that’s that. Yet this announcement to the shepherds is radically personal; this is not an arbitrary birth or an arms-distant relationship, or something to be objectified in art, literature and liturgy; rather, it is immediate and relational. The Messiah is ours from the very beginning—not someone who is simply for us and who acts as an indifferent advocate on our behalf, but someone who comes to us, and is therefore in us, part of us. I wonder how ready we really are to embrace that message.

Some days ago, a friend told me a story of a conversation she overheard between a mother and four-year-old child who were shopping together. The little girl looked at her mother and said, “Oh, Mommy, every day is just the very best day!” Now that is something to think about. No wonder Jesus liked children and admonished us to be like them. In these few words—from the mouth of a child—the good news of Advent resonates in all its beauty and simplicity.

Just imagine what it would be like if we could say every morning, “Today is just the very best day!” Isn’t that what Christ himself tells us over and over again to believe. “Don’t be afraid. I am with you….I was born to you.”

If we could truly live the promise of Advent, we would be incapable of judging others because we would naturally see only the best in everyone; we would stop worrying about the future because we would know that Christ is clinging to us in this moment. Like the child, we would feel the connection without having to think about it. Sadness and despair would turn to hope; life’s inevitable challenges would become opportunities for growth; fear would turn to courage; anxiety and frustration would turn to commitment; and hesitation and apathy would turn to action and discipleship.

And that would be very good news indeed—for us and for the world!

[Adam Quine, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Lincoln]

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