Nov 4, 2008, 5:05 AM
The Birth of Jesus – Good News of Great Joy
The Angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see -I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people; to you is bornthis day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord…’(Luke 2: 10 – 11)
This Christmas, many among us are afraid, and for many there is good reason to be afraid. Some of us are afraid to lose our social status, some fear for their economic situation. Some of us are afraid for our health, some fear for their very lives. Some are afraid for their children’s wellbeing, others fear for the wellbeing of their parents and grandparents.
Modern communication media, through our television sets and our radios, tell us of terrible news of people who face all kinds of calamity - earthquakes, terrible diseases, floods, droughts, famines; reasons to be afraid of natural catastrophes and man-made environmental disasters, international tensions and internal dissent among nations, the threat of rebellion or widespread economic collapse. We hear of thousands who had to flee their homes for fear of their lives, displaced, destitute, homeless, famished and desperate, without friends or family to support or comfort and encourage them.
Around Christmas time, many people believe that there is more catastrophe than at other times of the year. It would appear that bad things happen all year around, but somehow, at Christmas, we feel it more. This is because Christmas reminds us of how beautiful and happy life could be, and many of us believe it should be like that all the time. Because at the very first Christmas, when Jesus, the long-expected saviour of the world was born, joy, beauty and happiness entered this world in a supernatural way. God, the Almighty Creator and Ruler of the Universe, became a human being, Emmanuel which means God is with us.
This is the good news of Christmas: God cares and He loves us and He does not leave us alone. In his Son, Jesus Christ, He comes to us because He wants to give us hope. In Jesus, He wants to forgive our sins and He wants to save us from the consequences of our sins.In Jesus He wants to give us hope that with God’s help we can overcome the things we are afraid of. Yes, in Jesus there is always hope.
This good news of the birth of Jesus is so important, that God announces it months in advance through supernatural beings called angels, and supernatural cosmic occurrences such as a moving star so that we cannot miss it when it happens.
First, an angel appears to a priest called Zechariah, an older man whose wife Elizabeth had not been able to have children for many years, despite many prayers. Now she was considered too old to have children, and they were afraid that they would never have children. But the angel comes and announces to Zechariah that they would have a son, and that this son would prepare the way for the Messiah, the Saviour of the World.What wonderful news for a priest to hear!
Second, another angel appeared to a young woman called Mary and told her that she would have a son, supernaturally conceived, who would be the son of the Most High God.She was told to give him the name Jesus, because he will be the Saviour of the World.The angel also told her that her relative Elizabeth was also expecting a miraculous child to encourage her to trust the message because for God all things are possible.
Then, a third angel appeared in a dream to Joseph, who was engaged to Mary, when he considered breaking off the marriage because she was pregnant. This angel also announced that the baby to be born was the Son of the Most High God.
A fourth kind of revelation came to a group of wise men from the East, probably Babylonia or Persia. They discovered an extraordinary phenomenon, a very special star that was rising in the West.They interpreted its rising as the announcement of the birth of a new king in Judah, and since this birth was so special that even a star in heaven announced it, they became convinced that THIS birth was so significant, they wanted to see the new-born king himself and honour him, which they did with gold, frankincense and myrrh, gifts fit for a king.
The fifth revelation again camefrom an angel. This once appeared to a group of lowly shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem, just a short distance away from where Jesus was born.This angel was sent because God wants everyone to hear the good news of great joy, no matter their status in life.
And so finally we find ourselves in a stable in a little town outside Jerusalem in Judah. We find ourselves in the company of animals, shepherds, wise men from the East, even a supernatural moving star giving light and direction in the middle of the light --- all for this baby, because God wants us to take note. This baby that was bornis none other than God Himselfwho has comeamong us, who has becomeone of us , to save the worldfor good, to give us real hope, to carry usthroughour fearsand challenges. Knowing with confidence that God loves us and cares for us. Let the Christmas story speaks to you again.
May God Almighty fill our hearts and minds with joy, hope, peace and love as we celebrate this Christmas.
To His Excellency the President of The Republic of The Gambia, Sheikh Professor Alhajie Dr Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, the Vice-President Ajaratou Dr IsatouNjie-Saidy, the Religious Leaders, the Legislature,the NationalAssemblymembers and to all who live and work here, Iwish you all a blessed Christmas.