Christmas Day 2023,
Isaiah 52:7-10 & Luke 2:1-14-20.
7 How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”
8 Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;
together they shout for joy.
When the LORD returns to Zion,
they will see it with their own eyes.
9 Burst into songs of joy together,
you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the LORD has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The LORD will lay bare his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth will see
the salvation of our God. Isaiah 52:7-10
What are the feet of angels like? That is a good discussion for your meals.
Maybe like Hobbit’s feet? But you know your Tolkien, it is Gandalf’s feet you should consider…
Isaiah says. How beautiful are the feet that brings good news.
How beautiful are your feet? Not very. Yet Isaiah says the good news has so much splendour, that even the most ordinary things are touched by it…
The feet are beautiful because of the good news they have.
There are a couple of marathon runners here. Marathons commemorate the legendary run of a messenger called Pheidippides from Marathon to Athens to tell the Athenians that their army had defeated the Persians. There’s no doubt that he had feet that were dirty but they were beautiful.
How beautiful are the feet that ‘’bring good news’’ – Paul takes these words and applies them in Romans 10 – for those who are the messengers to others who do not know the good news.
The angels brought the message to the shepherds. ‘Do not be afraid, I bring you good news.’
Then the shepherds brough the message to others. ‘’’’they spread the word concerning what had been told them about the child. ‘’ 2:17
What are the feet of the angels like – beautiful!
What were the shepherds feet like – probably not washed recently, maybe dusty with looking after the sheep, maybe even smelly.
Another translation – how beautiful is the person who comes over the mountains to bring good news. How beautiful the person. Reminds us of the material our life groups just finishes – beautiful lives.
We are invited to be beautiful, to have beautiful feetl like, the angels, the shepherds…
Stand to sing Gloria in Exclesis.
Paul uses this verse from Isaiah: ‘And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? Ánd how can they hear unless they are sent? As it is written ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.’’
Paul takes Isaiah’s words, about ‘good news’, for this is exactly what Christianity is about…
Angels told the shepherds: do not be afraid I bring your good news…
The Good news.
Christianity is good news for it declares these four things…Isaiah says. Peace, goodness, salvation.
Peace – shalom.
The angels filled the skies and said: ‘’on earth peace to all on whom his favour rests.’’
‘shalom – when all things are in proper relation to each other’; nothing is left incomplete, hanging or unfilled.’’
A messanic jewish writer says, shalom It is a concept that is perhaps the most treasured among Jewish people, as it is one of their favorite words. The Hebrew term (Shalom) is significantly different from the commonly known Greek concept (eirene). In the Greek culture, the term was used to describe a situation in which there was an absence of conflict. When a war stopped, that was eirene. It is what we pray for in Ukraine, in Israel and Gaza etc..
In the Jewish culture, the term is much broader and deeper. Not only does it describe the absence of war but also a state of completeness, fulfillment, and positive blessing.
Good – Hebrew word is ‘tob’ Same word used in the creation – God say it and it was good.
Tob is used for the first time, to describe the creation – good, untainted… perfect.
It is good because it reflects a good creator. God’s work. God’s work – is good.
God is good, all the time, all the time, God is good.
As Paul says in Romans – God’s good pleasing and perfect will; God who in all things, works for the good of those who love him.
God’s work is good, because he is good. God’s good news is GOOD!
Salvation – salvation from every bondage, but especially the bondage resulting from sin.
Jesus you shall call him Jesus – the LORD saves.
Joseph is told ‘’ she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people, from their sins.’’ Matthew 1:21
The angels do not point to God in heaven but they say ‘today, in the town of David, a saviour has been born to you.’ Roman propaganda called Augustus as the Saviour of the world, when in fact no political leader will ever be – only Jesus is given that title.
Your God reigns – your God is King.
The angels say ‘today a saviour has been born, he is Christ the Lord; Christ God’s promised king. Kurios – title used for Lord but also used in the Greek translation of the OT for Yahweh…
Suggesting Jesus is King yet he is more than a king like David. He is God the king.
The magi would arrive later – we have come to worship the king of the jews.
Worship and kingship. The one they come to worship is Jesus.
Jesus message would be ‘the gospel of the kingdom’ God was breaking into this world.
Peace – completeness, nothing left unfulfilled;
Good – it is a work of God, a good work,
Salvation – from every bondage including sin
God is King. And where God reigns, there is peace, shalom, goodness and salvation.
We sing Gloria in excelsis
Where God reigns, peace (shalom), good, salvation.
about declaring the reign of God in the world:
The angel said – I bring you good news of great joy!
Joy? The only time that the angels are seen en masse with the natural eye in scripture. They are seen in visions and dreams but with the natural eye. The next time, when he returns.
Singing and praising God.
The shepherds see the child. After they see the child, they leave and go ‘glorifying and praising God’
Isaiah. See the joy in the city. ‘’Your watchmen shout for joy.’’
And ‘burst into songs of joy together you ruins of Jerusalem.’’
Why – for the Lord had redeemed, comforted, shown his power…
The places with no hope, or laid waste – burst into joy…
I remember years ago, two of Jolanda’s nephews were with us. We took them to see Phantom of the Opera – the film version. They found it very random – and actually it was hilarious the fell asleep in the cinema. It was random – a serious story and suddenly people started singing dramatically.
Actually if you read the first 2 chapters of Luke, you see songs breaking out all over the place – like some musical – it isn’t just the angels. There is Mary, Elisabeth, Zechariah, Simeon, Anna… As if they can’t keep silent. But this isn’t La La Land. Luke shares it – this was going on!
In fact the historical church uses canticles called Benedictus, Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis, Gloria in Exclesis – what we said earlier. We see all these explosions of joy, of what the Lord is doing…
It does seem to be the first response to the good news – is joy… adoration … praise…. Worship…
Yet Paul sees it as the first, and ongoing – rejoice always he tells the Thessalonians and also the Philippians …
We are going to have a longer time of singing at the end, which I think it suitable on such a day as today!
The Joy over the good news
The message of the Good news
The Feet that takes the Good news.
Don’t forget the question – what kind of feet do angels have?
Final time. We sing Gloria in excelsis.