I’ve got good news for you. So “go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere, go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.” We’ve come tonight to hear good news, to sing songs of praise, and rejoice in the Lord, because Emmanuel is here with us. We’ve been waiting in patient expectation for the coming of the one who is the “Desire of nations” who will “bind all peoples in one heart and mind; bid envy strife and quarrels cease; fill the whole word with heaven’s peace.” So now it’s time to rejoice, because “Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”
The reading from Isaiah was first spoken to exiles who wondered if God still heard their prayers. The prophet answers their questions with a message of good news, proclaiming a word of peace and salvation. When all hope seemed lost, the prophet declared: “Your God Rules!” Don’t give up hope, because the day of your redemption is here.
Although this message was first spoken to the exiles in Babylon, they have come to have a much broader meaning and application. Like those exiles we long to see God’s reign present in our lives. We come tonight in the hope of peace, of justice, and God’s love. This is good news to all people, everywhere.
But if we’re to receive this message then we must look at things through a different lens. Victory doesn’t come through the flexed muscles, but in the form of a powerless and vulnerable child.
It’s sometimes difficult to fully hear and understand this Christmas message. There are, after all, so many competing voices clamoring for our attention. We find ourselves rushing about trying to get all the last minute shopping and baking and cooking done before the big day arrives. We get so caught up in the weeds that we forget why we’ve come to celebrate this glorious moment. But voices call out to us, reminding us that there is good news to be received.
Remember how frustrated Charlie Brown was with the commercialization of Christmas. He knew something was missing, but he couldn’t figure it out. Lucy’s answer was more busyness. She made him director of the Christmas pageant, but this only made things worse. Just being busy didn’t solve the problem. In his frustration, Charlie Brown cries out to anyone who would listen: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Linus responds to Charlie Brown’s cry of desperation by taking center stage and retelling the Christmas story according to the Gospel of Luke. Linus reminds us that the shepherds were watching their flocks by night, when all of a sudden, an angel of the Lord appeared, and “they were sore afraid.” But they needn’t be afraid because the angel came bearing good news, good news that they would go on to share with the world as God’s beautiful messengers.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Lk 2:10-11 KJV).
When he finished telling the Christmas story, Linus walked off the stage and said to Charlie Brown: “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Linus has been sharing this good news with us for nearly fifty years.
In our songs, in the readings, in the time of sharing at the Lord’s Table, and in the lighting of candles, we have the opportunity to let this good news speak new life into our lives. Yes, in this little child, whom we call Emmanuel, God is with us shining the light of peace into our world. No matter what comes our way, we can find strength in this comforting word – God rules and is with us in this babe born in Bethlehem, who died on a cross and rose from the dead revealing to us the way of God’s kingdom. So:
Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere;
Go, tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.
Dr. Robert D. Cornwall, Pastor
Central Woodward Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
December 24, 2012