Through an angel God announced to lowly shepherds the most significant event in cosmic history. The saying was plain yet profound: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord” (Lk.2:11). Did you know that “Christ-mas” was the name given to the day a special religious service or “mass” was conducted to celebrate the birth of “Christ”? We must remember that Mary “brought forth” what God in eternity past had planned, “chosen” and “sent forth” (missio Dei ; Gal.4:4). Let us not get all bogged down with the exact date for Christmas that we forget that wondrous fact that Christ came and… we must go. The doctrine of the incarnation is an intrinsic part of the gospel (good news) with an impelling “go” in it! God’s disclosure of his salvation in Jesus is linked to Christian mission. How?
Notice from the story (Lk.2.8-20), the angelic message came to these rejected shepherds as a personal word (to you). They were so oppressed socially and religiously marginalised that their hope for deliverance was in God and God alone. Second, this was a prophetic word in that God at last had revealed in Jesus the Messiah the finality of his promise. Jesus was the fulfillment of Israel’s expectations and the embodiment of salvation for the whole world. Third, it was the most practical word in so far as it was to take care of the root of all problems – sin, by meeting our greatest need – forgiveness! Fourth, it was a purposeful word with the goal of peace on earth and goodwill among humans, without the latter from God the former being impossible. Above all, receiving Christ as God’s gift brings glory to God in the highest!
It is important to note the twofold response of the shepherds: They said to one another, “Let us now Go and see this for ourselves… ” and after they had seen the Christ-child, they “made widely known this saying”, i.e. told everyone they met what God had revealed and they were privileged to participate in. Having personally experienced this joy, they realised that they were now the “chosen” ones to publicly share “to all people” the good news about Christmas. The gospel has a “come and see” as well as a “go and tell” in it. So, these shepherds returned to their ordinary lives yet on an extraordinary mission. They became bearers of the gospel of peace and peacemakers in their own context. Isn’t this what Christmas is about anyway?!
Jesus came from heav’n above, Go tell it out! With a heart of wondrous love, Go tell it out! Go proclaim on every side, how he suffered, bled and died, for the world was crucified, Go tell it out!
‘Mid the lands of darkest night, Where there is no ray of light, In this world of sin and woe, There are those who do not know, Of the One who loves them so, Go, tell it out!
Oh, Come let us adore him… then, Go tell it on the mountain!