So to make a long story short, I have a bit of a new purpose statement for this new year. It really kind of came to me a little before Christmas, and it seemed to make an impression for multiple reasons. I actually could not get away from it because it is a bible verse that is part of the traditional Christmas story. Wow…this short story seems to be getting longer by the minute!
But the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people”. Luke 2:10
I was looking for a verse to make some wall art, and this one popped onto my radar. I knew it would be awesome, so I would use “Glad Tidings, Great Joy” on a picture. It is actually one of my favorite verses out of the Christmas story, because of a church production that I was in many moons ago. One of the children said the line, like sixteen times, over the two weeks that the show ran. “I bring you glad tidings of great joy!” Every time he said that part, we laughed. The way he emphasized the words was so …joyful! To this day, the memory still makes me happy.
This time though, I was struck by a different note in the verse. It was the end that seemed to jump off the page and stick in my mind. I totally remember the “glad tidings and great joy” part, but I didn’t remember hearing the “all people”? At that point, I was thinking that something important was missing from my project. The “all people” was not something that I felt could be left off the photo.
Why? Well maybe it was a reaction to this whole year of anger, fear, with so much talking and not enough loving. In this past year of election noise, I wondered if that proclamation of “good news” was clearly heard? Did I see “great joy” when I looked in the mirror? Or in the church pews? And were “all people” able to hear and see those things? We may have thought so, but in watching and listening, I really wasn’t so sure?
I asked a Pastor in our town, not my own, but one that leads a different congregation what message he thought that the church as a whole was communicating to the world? He took a minute and thought about it. Eventually he said that it was a hard question to answer, and that he really didn’t know if there was one message. He apologized, but I told him not to worry, as his “non” answer was actually a pretty good one. If he could not hear a clear message coming from the church, then how could the world? Were we even communicating a message of “good news”?
As to the joy question, I felt it was easier to answer, but it was not an encouraging one. I heard so much fear about the election, that joy seemed to be in short supply.
That just leaves us with the “all people” portion of the verse. It bummed me out because it seems that over the past year I heard more about “those people” than “all people”.
Good news, great joy, all people! It is one small phrase, but there is a lot packed into it. Since I said this would be quick, I won’t unpack any more, but I figure as the year progresses I will see how I can actually live out what it means.
I was listening to a sermon today from Saddleback Church and he said, “when you don’t know where you are headed, remember God knows where He is taking you”. Well I can honestly say that I have no idea where this is headed, but I am depending on God to know where He is taking me.