Fourth Sunday in Advent, Year B
Luke 1:26-31; 2:8-12
Good morning, boys and girls! Look at the Advent wreath today! All four of the candles around the circle are lit. Only the white candle in the middle is left to light on Christmas Eve. Jesus' birthday is getting close, isn't it!
One of the many fun things about the holiday season is hearing from friends and family we haven't spoken with in a long time. Sometimes people who have moved away come back to town to visit. Every once in a while an old friend will surprise us with a phone call. Emails, text messages, Facebook posts and tweets on Twitter often contain "Merry Christmas" greetings.
The traditional way to send a Christmas message is with a Christmas card. Has your family received any Christmas cards this year? Maybe you made a Christmas card in school or at home to give to someone special. Christmas cards are a lovely way to let people know you're thinking about them and that you hope they have a Merry Christmas.
I received this card from my old friends, Jim and Carol. If we open it up, we can see that it says, "_______________________." (Show card and read the message.) Can you see what is on the front of the card? Exactly right. It's an angel.
In the weeks and months before Jesus was born that first Christmas, God needed to send a message to several different people. God needed to let them know something spectacular was happening in the world. God didn't mail a card or make a phone call, post on Facebook or use smoke signals, or telegrams or carrier pigeons. God sent angels to deliver his most important message.
The Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. At first she was frightened, but the angel reassured her saying, "Do not be afraid, Mary, because God is very happy with you." Then the angel told Mary that God had chosen her to be the mother of a very special son. She was told to name him Jesus, and that he would be great, holy, the Son of God. Mary agreed, and the angel left.
Later on in the story, after Jesus was born, God sent another angel with a message, this time to shepherds who were out in a field, taking care of their sheep. Suddenly, an angel appeared to them. They were frightened, like Mary was. The angel told the shepherds, "Do not be afraid, because I bring you the happiest news, for you and all people. This very day, a most special baby was born to be your Savior. You will find him wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."
There is more to the story, but I'll save that for Christmas Eve. The point I want to make today is how important angels were as messengers to get out the good news of Jesus coming into the world.
We can serve as God's messengers, too. We can tell people the Good News that Jesus is coming! Merry Christmas! Jesus is coming! Merry Christmas! Can you say that with me? Jesus is coming! Merry Christmas!
Let's pray together.
Dear God, Thank-you for sending angels to share such an important message--that Jesus is coming! Help us to share the Good News today and every day. Amen.