Birth Announcement

“It’s cold out on the streets.” This was my greeting from a fellow coming into our Drop In for a hot coffee and some fellowship. It was cold in temperature but it is cold in more ways than just that one. I was thinking of my friend and his remark as I found myself as the unexpected preacher at this past Wednesday’s worship time at the Men’s Shelter after an Out Flow meal. I was asked to read the Christmas Story from Luke 2 and “say something about it.”  My ‘go to’ Christmas message is an harangue against the god of materialism and greed at whose altar society so faithfully worships at this time of year.  But as I thought about my friend I realised that this crowd was not caught up in the ‘spirit of consumerism’ but were rather ensnared in jealousy and self-pity. I felt that they too needed reminding that the message to humble poor shepherds was good news for them.

After my mother’s death this year we discovered all of the Birth announcements of her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren among her treasures.  Birth announcements were obviously important to her. Jesus’ Birth Announcement came not in the Free Press, or Journal, or Tribune but instead was heralded by angels; “For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a saviour who is Christ the Lord…” The good news to the humble poor was the coming of the long awaited Saviour. The oppressed looked longingly for this first advent through all the cold and lonely nights. This coming Saviour would take up their cause and deliver them. The day of Salvation was dawning. This infant, Word of God, was to go from the crèche to the cross, to the tomb, before his return to the Father’s side. All that was beginning with that original Birth Announcement.

This remains good news to my friend from the cold streets and so many of his fellows. The Saviour has come. But there is more good news. This Saviour is the anointed Messiah and Lord of all! Together with all my desperate friends we look for the Advent of the King and Messiah. Like shepherds so long ago we wait and long for this ultimate deliverer.

My friend is keenly aware of his need for such a King and Saviour. He has good news to those who sit in Pierre Burton’s “Comfortable Pew”. Those in more temporally blessed circumstances have the opportunity to be good news to my friend and all his fellows. “God so loved …. That He gave” We most resemble our Father when we likewise practise generosity. We need the poor and the poor need us! Such need is captured in the Good News of that first Birth Announcement.