Summary: When we understand the message of the angels we will be ecstatic
What’s Christmas All About? Living in Ecstasy”
What difference would it make if all this about Jesus being the Son of God was true? Judging by the reaction of the angels and shepherds, we would be ecstatic. To be ecstatic is to be beside oneself, overpowered with emotion, transported to a different state of being. Certainly this describers the angels at the time of their announcement – and it captures the state of the shepherds as well. Perhaps if we can get the message of the angels into our hearts we, too, can live in ecstasy.
The angels brought a message from God: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Notice their first words: “DO NOT BE AFRAID.” Now why would the shepherds be afraid? Because the holy God was speaking to them.
And tonight He speaks to us. He announces that He is with us – THE HOLY GOD IS WITH US. Think of the great gap between God and humankind. It is too vast for words to describe it. God is eternal, not limited by time; He is omnipresent, not limited by space; He is omnipotent, with no limits to His power; He is omniscient, with no limits to His knowledge. He is infinite, we are infinite. And we cannot cross the gap; we have no way to reach God. We live in two different worlds. In fact, we cannot handle His world – it is too pure, too holy, too perfect. Surely the thought of this God being with us can be frightening.
But “Do not be afraid.” Rather than hanging on to His glory Jesus humbled Himself and came all the way down to us, moved into our district, just to be with us. We can visit someone who lives in poverty, but that’s not the same as taking up their poverty. We can visit someone who is ill, but it’s not the same as taking up their illness. We can visitor someone in prison, but it’s not the same as taking up their imprisonment. But Jesus came and took up all of our lives into Himself. He didn’t just come to be with us, he came to share our load. As the prophet Isaiah predicted, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…but he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” As the Apostle Paul wrote, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
That should make us ecstatic. GOD LOWERED HIMSELF SO HE COULD RAISE US UP; HE CAME TO US SO WE COULD BE WITH HIM. Although the storms of life swirl around me, at the core of my life everything is okay – I am not alone. Margaret Waage wrote of an especially important Christmas eve in her life. She got off her job at noon and stood dejectedly in the crowd waiting for the subway train. She had worked by herself all morning since her fellow workers had been given the day off. Now many people around her were talking about their trips home to their families. Some had little children with them. But Margaret had no home – just a rented room – and no plans, no husband and no children, even though she was getting well into her thirties. Suddenly she heard the crystal notes of two flutes interweaving. Down the platform were two young girls, playing Christmas carols. In their serene young beauty, they looked like angels in disguise. She added her quarter to the pile of change in their open flute cases. The train came and went, but she lingered, fascinated by the people who came and dropped coins, even bills. Most were shabbily dressed, but their faces seemed alight with happiness. It occurred to her that these were the poor, the people Christ had greatly loved. On that cold, noisy subway platform they were joined, without knowing one another, in the great Christmas Feast of Love that she had lost sight of in her self-pity. Finally she heard the girls play “O Little Town of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in; be born in us today.” And suddenly, in the middle of that bleak subway station, everything changed. Margaret realized she did have a Christmas feast to go to! The Lord’s Supper at church that evening. Of course she had a home! “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt. 18:20) Of course she had a child! The Holy child could be born in her every day as she sought to love Him above and beyond the hope for a worldly marriage and children. Margaret took the next train, feeling warm and contented. She knew that those two young strangers had given her a magnificent Christmas gift. They had put Christ back where He belonged – in Christmas and in her heart.