At first, it was a quiet night. Something or someone appears out of nowhere in the darkness of the night. Then some sort of glory (see verse 9) shone all around them and scared them half to death! The "them" were a handful of shepherds, who were working the fields that night near Bethlehem. Once the angel calms them a bit, Luke writes, "And suddenly..."
...the heavens break out the big guns! The sky is full of angels and they are singing a glorious song of the peace God has for His children! It's like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir all died and went to heaven! With full orchestra made up of the most amazing musicians, God's magnificence shown out, if only for a few moments.
And, who might have seen such a thing? If the night sky was lit up like some humongous roman candle, wouldn't someone else have seen it other than a few shepherds? No one (no other Gospel or St. Paul or any other writer of the New Testament) reports that anyone else saw what happened. This marvelous birth happens with little fanfare, at least according to the worldly standards. Night comes and then the morning. Everyone is going about their business, well, except maybe some bedazzled night watchmen who usually can't be trusted. As they traveled around and shared this story, most folks probably thought they had had a little too much to drink on that particular night.
Here it begins.
Here the story of the Christ begins.
Seems rather strange, don't you think, that God would choose such a plain and familiar way to enter into the world to begin His journey of salvation...at least, if the night sky wasn't seen by anyone else other than a few men?
Why wouldn't God have chosen the Messiah to ride into His kingdom on a golden chariot, flames a blazing, glory all around, bringing the world to her knees? Why couldn't God have chosen to arrive by thunderbolt and put a very righteous fear into the hearts of every living person? Why not use the most divine special effects to change the minds of the world's dissenters on God and religion?
I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times, God does His best work in the shadows, away from the brightness of the world.
Besides, time and time again, God chooses to go another way with His grace and love.
No fanfare entry, but a lowly manger;
No powerful warfare, but a simple compassion for others;
No glorious trek to the throne, but a bloody way to a cross;
No bright lights, but a dark hill;
In these places, God makes Himself known.
God is not shy, He just likes to pick and choose His places to reveal Himself, and it seems to always be in the oddest of places. It is not odd to God.
And, it shouldn't be odd to us either, in fact, it should be delightful surprises, for that is how God works!
Watch these days of the CHRISTmas season, these 12 days - some of the darkest of days all year - and see if the light of Christ doesn't shine to beat back the darkness in your lives!
In so doing, always remember...
God loves you and so do we!