Luke 2:9-11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
People have often said that I tend to be a little naive. Actually, I would rather be naive than filled with unbelief. As a result of that apparent naivety, I believed in Santa Claus much later than some of my friends. I would fantasize about him as Christmas Eve drew near. I think at times it developed into some sort of fear; I can remember shaking in my boots when I imagined hearing the reindeer on my roof. Mixed with this fear was a growing, deep seated joy. As the chipmunks used to sing, “I can hardly stand to wait please Christmas don’t be late”. So there it is, I was trembling with joy. Like David said we are to rejoice with trembling.
That is exactly what happened to the shepherds that first Christmas Eve. They were shaking with fear as they experienced the glory of the Lord and the angelic visitation. Their hearts were bursting with joy at the news of the Savior’s birth. Rejoice with trembling, that is a good place to be as we approach another celebration of the coming of the Lord. Here are some thoughts from Luther on today’s verse.
“What is this joy? Listen to what the angel says ‘behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people’. That signified that this joy would be proclaimed to all people, but only those would be receptive whose consciences were stricken and hearts troubled; these are the ones that belong to me and my message, and to whom I proclaim something good. Is not this a wonder that this joy would be dearest to those in whom the conscience was most disquieted? There, where fear and terror reigned, this glorious, precious, sweet joy was to come, there where the human heart could grasp and receive it only with difficulty. The shepherds were witnesses to the brilliant light which overpowered the world’s darkness, yet they were terrified by it and greatly feared. Ought one really be terrified by joy and be fearful before such beautiful light? Indeed, as the text says, the shepherds were frightened by the dazzling light of the Lord that shone around them. And that is the way it must be and no other way.”
So I pray you haven’t become a scrooge or a grinch this Christmas season. That often comes when the troubles and responsibilities of life crowd out what really matters. Let’s join with the angels, the chipmunks, Martin Luther, and the naive little children and rejoice with trembling as the great day draws near.