Christmas Eve Carol Service Reflection 2021
at Saint Columba’s United Reformed Church North Shields,
by the Reverend Trevor Jamison
‘Do not be afraid: for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.’
‘Good news’: well, we could all do with some of that. Omicron might not strike as much fear into you as if you were a shepherd confronted by a host of angels on a dark night in the middle of nowhere, but as part of an ongoing saga, it’s one more cause for anxiety, if not depression. We could all do with some good news and great joy.
That’s exactly what the angel – God’s messenger – brings: ‘good news of great joy.’ This good news is not sentimental, Christmassy, wishful thinking. Nobody’s saying, “don’t worry about COVID because Jesus was born in Bethlehem.” If they are, they shouldn’t be. The message is not that one baby’s birth puts everything right in this world all at once. Two thousand years of history, including our recent travails, demonstrates that.
What the angel does say; what the subsequent life and death and resurrection of Jesus demonstrates, is that God is at work to bring all things together for good here on earth – which is good news for all people.
The angelic message does not invite us to deny the existence of frustrations, or the reality of suffering. It’s not an “opiate for the people”; something to make us feel better, by masking or hiding the reality of pain. Instead, it’s an invitation to contemplate what God has done. Stepping into the world in the birth of a human being, God is accomplishing God’s great purpose: the flourishing of all life.
We have not been left alone. In this still imperfect world, God is with us. And tonight we’re invited to respond to what God has done; with gratitude to God; with actions that model God’s new world that’s on its way. God has done something great for us all, so let’s respond by doing good things for others, this Christmas, and in the days ahead.