The word noel has many meanings depending upon the derivative you choose to follow. During the Christmas Season it has been understood to mean “good news.” I believe we all could use some “good news” and the calendar offers us an opportunity to hear the best news once a year on Dec. 25.
The story itself has been around for over 2,000 years and amazingly it has not changed much. We all know the story. An angel startles a band of shepherds one night and tells them,
“‘Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.’
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.” (Luke 2:10-14)
Why God chose a motley crew of stinky rascals to be the first to hear about his son’s birth is beyond me. Maybe because they had time to listen. I wonder if they understood the baby they went to see was actually the savior of humanity? Or were they caught up in the excitement of angels singing to them?
The angel said we shouldn’t be afraid and Christ’s birth was meant for everybody, worldwide, from lowly shepherds to kings. The angel’s message was that a savior was born. He would be the savior of humanity and instead of arriving as a king, he arrived as a baby, one of us. Now that’s amazing! Talk about taking a step “down.”
One day Jesus was part of the Trinity, hanging out in heaven and the next day, a human baby. Based on the story of how the world was created, Jesus was there helping to put everything together. He chose to become human in order to redeem the mess that had become of His creation. He was born to suffer, born to save, born to raise us from the grave. Glory to God in the highest!
When we put this all together, the final words the angels spoke make sense – “Peace to all men and women on earth.”
God knows we could surely use some peace. This Christmas season may we offer peace to those around us. French, German, and British soldiers managed to do this on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the midst of fighting World War I.
May the story of Christmas empower each of us to take time to listen and offer peace to those around us.
(Marilee Harris has been the pastor at Damariscotta Baptist Church for over 10 years. During the school year she teaches math and science to fifth and sixth graders at Friendship Village School. She also serves the homeless and those in need of affordable housing in Lincoln County as president of Stepping Stone Housing Inc.)