We have many favorite Christmas-themed picture books around here.
This is one of our favorites this year.
Listen to the Silent Night is gorgeously illustrated, focused on the journey to Bethlehem and the beginning of the Word become flesh (John 1:1-4). The steady rhythm the words take when read aloud help you feel the possible emotions of the night.
This is one of my personal favorite pages:
Look at that unabashed joy on the shepherd’s face.
The urgency of his posture. The importance of that job to spread this new of great joy.
It makes me almost think those shepherds immediately grabbed that good news and ran with it.
But reading Luke 2 reminds me otherwise.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appear to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” – Luke 2:8-9, NIV
They were what? Terrified?!
Considering the awe-inspiring appearance angels might have had (not necessarily the “happy” simple faces on Christmas crafts), I might’ve been terrified, too.
The angel greeted the shepherds:
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’” – Luke 2:10-11, NIV
That’s pretty upfront. Do not be afraid. I bring good news. Here it is!
Did the angel stop there? Nope. Read on, and we see:
“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:12, NIV
The angel told the shepherds this good news outright, and he told the shepherds they would have visual confirmation!
Is this the only message the shepherds receive? Nope.
“Suddenly a great company of heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’” – Luke 2:13-14, NIV
Not only did the angel tell the shepherd the good news and say they’d have visual confirmation, but an entire host of angels appeared to sing praises of God and confirm this great news.
In just seven verses, we have one revelation and two big reminders of immeasurable joy.
The shepherds didn’t hear this good news just once. They heard it three times. Repeated joy.
So off the shepherds run (dashing with that excitement in the illustration above, I imagine) to Bethlehem to see for themselves. (They need another reminder!)
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to the Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” – Luke 2:15-16, NIV
They see him! They actually see Christ the King, born in the humble, new, fresh form of a human baby. The beauty. The joy. Unimaginable, isn’t it?
And so they go, ready to the share the news as they’ve been commissioned to do.
Do they tell just one person? Speak this good news just once?
“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them…The shepherds returned, glorying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” – Luke 2:17-18, 20
Who knows how many times these shepherds repeated themselves. But they did. They told many people, and then they returned, still praising, still repeating the joy.
We Need Reminders
We need truths repeated. “Do not be afraid” is one of the most repeated phrases in the Bible (Luke 1:30). The psalms repeat again and again to “rejoice” and to “trust” and that God’s love endures forever (Psalm 136).
We need reminders.
Sometimes I need reminders of the joy myself. Sometimes I need something repeated until I really get it, trust it, understand it. (And I’ve seen the same happen with others, whether it be about faith or about other things, like health or habits.)
Here are five Scriptures to remind yourself or share with others to repeat the joy and share good tidings this Christmas:
- “The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.” – Psalm 145:13b
- “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27
- “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14
- “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5
- “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
This list is not at all comprehensive. What verses would you add? How can you repeat the joy to yourself and others this Christmas?