Good News of Great Joy
Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
Christmas is the season of giving. Sounds warm and fuzzy and simple, doesn’t it? But don’t we all have at least one person on our gift list who is difficult to shop for? We scour our brains trying to figure out what they might like that we can afford and find easily (free shipping preferred). We might be tempted to give up and just buy them a one-size-fits-all gift, even though we know one size almost never truly fits everyone. Perhaps we look at an item guaranteed to please any lucky recipient, but we suspect false advertising. People are all so different. What’s a conscientious gift giver to do for that person who has seemingly everything? It’s a holiday dilemma for sure.
So when the angel announced to the terrified shepherds on that hillside so long ago that there was good news that would cause great joy for ALL the people, do you suppose they were suspicious? False advertising, perhaps? What news could be good for everybody? That just isn’t how the world works. If there’s a winner, there must be a loser. What’s good for some must be bad for others. There’s a kind of universal law of balance at work. How can anything be good news for everyone? It’s impossible!
Impossible is exactly what God does best.
That baby in the manger was a gift for the whole world. God’s plan of salvation that was first revealed back at the very beginning, in the book of Genesis, became an in-the-flesh reality that winter night. Jesus came to save everyone, not just the wealthy or the powerful. Not just those who can afford him or those who ingratiate themselves to him. Nope. The gift of salvation Jesus offers is truly one-size-fits-all. It’s the one gift guaranteed to please every recipient. God’s gift of grace, his unmerited favor, is for all people. Everyone who accepts it, invites Jesus in, and follows him wins; nobody loses.
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests! His favor rests on us. Even before we knew him, he knew us. Even before we understood or admitted that our sin separated us from him, he had a plan to end that separation by overwhelming us with his mercy. Even though we don’t deserve even to know him, he made a way for us to return to him, to have a relationship with him. Because he loves us that much. It’s humbling, really. To think that the God who made all of creation cares enough about us to share himself with us. To pour out his abundant, extravagant, redeeming, life-giving love on us. What a gift! And all we have to do is accept it.
Now that really is good news that causes great joy for all people. Amen?
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship (nursery care and Children’s Worship available; Discovery Hour is on break until January).