Are you listening

The gospel of Luke shares the story of the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. They were part of a culture that had been anticipating the arrival of a Messiah for many generations. When the angel told them of the arrival of their Messiah, they were afraid and somewhat anxious. It reads, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 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 Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 

Suddenly a great company of the 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 favour rests.”  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:8-20).

The shepherds did overcome their initial feelings. They let the experience of the moment guide them and as a result, found Jesus. The Christmas season always seems to bring about a feeling of anxiety for many. The extra busyness associated with Christmas shopping, the packed malls, the difficulty parking and even the slow lines to get a coffee adds to this strange uneasiness. Christmas is something that even the world eagerly anticipates yet few will experience the hope, peace, love and joy that arrived that first Christmas morning. We like to blame the commercialization of Christmas for the difficulties we face during this season forgetting we are willing participants in whatever activities occur during this time. Many will feel an uneasiness during this time because they really do not understand what they are waiting for or are trying to create an experience they think should happen.

Christian brothers and sisters can also become anxious about the season. Their concerns often stem from an inward desire to finally tell their family about Jesus; family they may only see once or twice a year. They say things like, “this year I want everyone to understand the true meaning of Christmas” or “I want them to know they are lost without Jesus”.  Admirable desires but they are often motivated by guilt linked to perceived missed opportunities to share Jesus in the past. Their troubled souls often ruin their Christmas Celebration and they also miss the hope, peace, love and joy that should permeate their lives this season.

Years ago, I was reminded that all believers are to be witnesses to the Good News of Jesus. However, I was also told to remember that we are the second witnesses to this truth as the Holy Spirit is the first. He goes before us preparing hearts and minds to both seek and hear the Good News. We must trust God to do His part while we listen for Him to call us to do our part. This mindset did not excuse us from sharing the truth. We need to accept that God is at work making divine appointments for us and we should be listening for Him. We must be in daily communication with God asking for strength and insight to respond to His nudging to share His truths.

Maybe this Christmas God wants us to reconcile with our families. To sit around the Christmas tree and talk, laugh and be real with one another. Maybe he wants us to break bread at dinner and not feel pressured to bring up eternity between the turkey and dessert. Maybe God wants us to not be anxious about anything this Christmas, including the salvation of family, and trust that He has it in hand and will use us when He is ready.  This does not stop us from sharing the Gospel. We must pray and listen daily for God because He wants us on His mission but, we must not get ahead of Him. When we listen, He will prompt us to speak up. Maybe He wants us to seek Jesus’ gifts of hope, peace, love and joy while we wait. Accept the truth that He wants us to live in harmony with one another and focus your prayers on connecting with others during this season. You will be pleased and excited about what God has planned for you and your family.

Anton Topilnyckyj