“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14 NIV
Shepherds are prepared for the unexpected. They keep a vigilant watch over the flock to protect them against predators and stay alert to each sheep’s location so they don't wander and fall into danger. We can be sure, though, the shepherds in the field in Bethlehem were not prepared for the unexpected appearance of the angel on that given night. First, a single angel told them not to be afraid; they were bringing good news. Then, a few minutes later, a "great company" appears, singing the verse from today.
What is this message? God, of angels and man who created heaven and earth, sent peace. The spiritual healing and redemption for the stain of sin brought about by man. This peace is offered to all for no other reason than his love for us. Upon hearing this message, the shepherds immediately went in search of this promise. Upon witnessing the child, they went away as the first evangelist, "glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." (Luke 2:20)
By God's grace, we are offered his peace. We are given a choice to accept Christ and receive forgiveness for the sin that separates us from God. In that lies the promise of the eventual restoration of a new Eden, a time without sin. Like the shepherds, in accepting Christ, we witness something too good to keep to ourselves but must glorify God in the highest heaven and give our thanks, and proclaim to all people his promise. Christ was born, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again.
God, in the highest, we give you thanks for your love for us. We praise and glorify your name in worship. Thank you for sending Jesus our redeemer. Please help us share this promise, so others may also come to know your peace. Amen.