Letter writer Canon George Burgon has a positive Christmas message for readers...
Every day we are inundated with news; some of it good or sad, or fake or bad. Every message needs a messenger. News sources do influence how it is received and acted upon.
In the first stories about the birth of Jesus we cannot escape the presence of the angels. These are the creatures God uses to carry his messages to us. The word “angel” means “messenger” in Greek which is the original language of the New Testament and the account of Jesus’s birth.
Angels can be quite scary, not just in their appearances but in their messages, as they take those they encounter out of their ordinary comfort zones and give them new avenues of thought and adventure (see Matthew 1:18-25).
Angels are consistent in the effect they have on the people they visit and whose lives will never be the same again. Unlike the messengers of fake news which hinders but does not enhance our humanity, God’s angels bring “glad tidings to all” for good, and forever. The news they handle comes from God and not any human source. Angels have always been around since the world began, inspiring our thoughts, invading our dreams and teasing our hearts and opening our eyes to new ways of looking at ourselves. I love the sentiments in the Abba song I Have a Dream, when it says, “I believe in angels, something good in everything I see” and “you can take the future even if you fail”.
The good news in the story of the birth of Jesus is for those who yearn to see a better and more love-based life for all as well as a transformed world.
This is bad and sad news for those whose lives are based on self-interest and greed, and it is “fake” news for those who have an outlook on life and themselves which is far removed from God’s visions for every human being.
The angels challenge us to see if we share in God’s dream for his creation.
The story of the birth of Jesus is part of that challenge as we celebrate this festival.
The effect on all of us is how we receive this “good” news from God. There will be many who will recognise this truth in attending services and Christmas events. However, the impact of the message of God’s love for us will be found in the hearts and lives of those who desire to see it make a difference to their daily existence and outlooks and recognise that the time is right for this to happen to them. As the Christmas Carol puts it: “O holy child of Bethlehem descend to us we pray, cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell: O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.”
That’s how it can be Christmas every day!
Canon George Burgon, by email