This December, as the season of Christmas quickly approached, I started hearing these words in my head and it seemed they were popping up everywhere. They aren't just the words in the famous carol “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. They are also the words spoken by the angel Gabriel when God sent him to bring the prophetic good news of Jesus' birth to Mary and Joseph over two thousand years ago. God had chosen the obscure couple to be the parents of the Messiah who would bring peace and goodwill to the world. Gabriel then went on to share the miraculous good news of another son, John, coming to Zechariah and Elizabeth, who would fore-run the ministry of Christ. Finally, the mighty angel trumpeted the good news to the shepherds in the fields once Jesus had been delivered!
God has always held names in high regard as proven in the nine hundred forty-four plus times he named himself, named things, or changed the names of things or people in scripture, Surely it was no accident the angel chosen to sound the trumpet of the Messiah's entry would be “Gabriel” which means God is my strength. Gabriel had nothing more to offer than a message, and his name represented the news he came to bring. Gabriel proclaimed Jesus as the promised deliverer who would be our only strength against the enemy in our world. Gabriel wasn't sent to bring glory to himself, but to remind us we cannot fight and win the battles we face without the confidence of Christ. He had the honor of announcing our only hope for great tidings of comfort and joy!
How do we live in tidings of comfort and joy in the midst of chaos at Christmas? Clearly, in the hurried, holiday hustle and bustle, we can lose sight of the gift we were given on that first Christmas morn. Reality is, despite our pursuit for peace in our palace, chaos does, at some point in time, knock on our palace door to rob us of the presence of Christ, not just at Christmas but all year round. Just as Mary had pondered in her heart the message of Gabriel, I too was pondering the presence of peace this Christmas when I realized Chaos had come to steal it, and I didn't even see him walk in. When we're taken by surprise by the thief of our comfort and joy, we have one of two choices to make if we want to regain the gift the Messiah gave. Mary and Joseph faced the same choices. They could refuse to accept the gift they had been chosen to receive or they could make the journey to the stable where it could be birthed. God is our strength when chaos wraps at the palace door, and we can either stand and fight the frenzy in our own power or kneel and pray for the gift of strength found in the manger.
Lastly, Gabriel appeared in the fields where the shepherds watched their flocks, broadcasting the birth announcement the Savior had been delivered. Why was the news carried to the fields and announced to the lowly shepherds? Because, they represented the common person and the lowly nature of us all. The baby King had come to save everyone from the chaos in our field, no matter where we dwell.
Nearby, in the fields outside of Bethlehem, a group of shepherds were guarding their flocks from predators in the darkness of night. Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light—the shining light of God’s glory. They were terrified!
The angel Gabriel said, "Don’t be afraid! Listen! I bring good news, news of great joy, news that will affect all people everywhere."
With Christ's arrival, Gabriel's message was no longer about his coming but about the presentation of his gifts. The word tidings means news, information, notification, and intelligence. Gabriel had come to give notification of the good news that comfort and joy had arrived. The word comfort is defined as a promise of freedom from pain, grief, and distress that the Messiah had come to bring. Joy is defined as delight, triumph, rejoicing, and rapture. The babe in swaddling clothes birthed delight in the midst of distress, triumph in trials, rejoicing in the midst of rebellion, and our rapture in the midst of ruptured, shattered relationships.
As the queen of our home, positioned by the king we've married, we gaze over the field of our harvest every day just as the shepherds did. Our palace is the place where we produce our fruit. Our children are the fruit we bear. They are the sheep we nurture standing by our husband's side as he leads the way. Together we watch over them and care for their safety until they leave to begin their own lives in their own field. Just as with the shepherds on that dark starry night, we labor and work to make sure our home is in order so our sheep can find green pasture and living water. The only hope we have for order in our field of harvest is the promise of comfort and joy that Christ brought.
So consider the message of Gabriel this holiday season, as we head toward the beginning of a new year. Stop and check the level of comfort and joy in your heart. If chaos is in your midst, take a step back and ask yourself two important questions. First, do I believe in the hope of Christ? If you have not yet chosen to put your faith in the comfort and joy Jesus came to bring through a personal relationship with him, it's not too late. This Christmas could be the beginning of the real peace he came to bring. All it takes is a trip to the trough where he lay. There you can find living water to quench your thirst for comfort and joy. His message is timeless and the salvation he brought on that fateful night 2000 years ago is still your hope in the field where you labor today. Follow this link to find the hope the baby brought forth just for you.:
If chaos is scrooging up your Christmas, the second question to consider is, “Am I listening to the authentic voice of Gabriel?” If you have a voice proclaiming any news in your field other than comfort and joy, you are listening to a counterfeit who is not a true Gabriel at all. If you have chaos and not comfort, and your home is in jeopardy without joy, silence the angel of anarchy and run. Run from your field back to the stable where you'll find the truth Gabriel was sent to proclaim! Your hope is wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger, and it's really not that far from the field to Bethlehem......
Today a Savior has 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 highest heaven,
and on earth peace and good will to those all men, on whom his favor rests.”
Do you want to live in a war-torn castle or a peaceful palace?
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