We are celebrating Advent using the acronym, “P.E.A.C.E.” to focus our hearts and minds on the Prince of Peace. The first week we contemplated the “P” in P.E.A.C.E., which represents “Prophecy.” The people were walking in sorrow and darkness, but they saw a great Light breaking into their lives and restoring their hope (Isa. 9:2). Last week we focused on the “E”, which symbolizes “Expectation.” We reflected upon the Israelites’ expectation of Messiah and noted that when Christ was born in a setting fit for peasants versus a castle, most were unwilling to acknowledge Him as the One for whom they had been waiting. This week we continue the “A”, which stands for “Announcement” (the pink Shepherds Candle or Candle of Joy).
The long-awaited Messiah was born, but many of the travel-worn people in Bethlehem were focused on registering for the obligatory census, paying their taxes, and finding shelter for the night. Meanwhile, shepherds in nearby fields were occupied with the demanding and arduous job of vigilantly caring for their flocks. Their daily responsibilities included leading their flocks to the pasture early each morning, keeping the sheep together, searching for any sheep that may have strayed from the flock, and making sure there was an adequate water supply. Each evening shepherds lead their flocks back to the sheep-fold, often standing watch through the night to protect the sheep from wild animals and thieves. They would have been exhausted from their day’s work and were probably sleepy on the night the angel broke through the inky sky, filling it with light. Nothing in their experience had prepared them for this spectacular heavenly encounter, and they were terrified!
The angel’s first words were, “Don’t be afraid”; he needed to be certain they could absorb the grand heraldic “Announcement.” Isaiah had advised the people to look for a sign that would signify Messiah’s arrival (Isa. 7:14), and now the angel confirmed the prophecy had been fulfilled (Lk. 2: 10-11). The proclamation of Messiah’s birth was joy-filled good news for all people and included His birthplace, and identifying details: He would be wrapped in cloths and resting in a manger-bed (Lk. 2:12); it was imperative that they locate the correct baby. Furthermore, to emphasize the magnitude of the announcement, the angel was joined by a whole host of angels, and they were saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests,” (Lk. 2:14). After the angels had gone, the shepherds didn’t linger; but they hurried to Bethlehem, where they saw Messiah for themselves. They wasted no time in joyfully announcing the good news to everyone they met on their return trip.
There are three significant factors to consider concerning the Announcement: 1) There is no need to be afraid of God’s messengers; 2) Jesus’ birth fulfilled Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy (Isa. 7:4); and 3) the discovery of God’s provision for salvation needs to be joyfully shared with others. Our challenge is to ask ourselves if we joyfully and excitedly share with others our discoveries and insights we find as we study God’s Word.
Former Salvation Army Officer
Suggested Daily Readings:
Sun. Dec. 11/16 The birth of Jesus. Luke 2: 1-7
Mon. Dec. 12/16 Angel’s Announcement to Shepherds Luke 2: 8-12
Tues. Dec. 13/16 Promise of Peace from the Prince of Peace Luke 2: 13-14
Wed. Dec. 14/16 The Shepherds Hurry to Discover Messiah Luke 2: 15-21
Thurs. Dec. 15/16 Promise of peace in a turbulent world. John 16: 33
Fri. Dec. 16/16 Jesus comforts the disciples and promises peace. John 14: 1-4; 21; 23-27
Sat. Dec. 17/16 Promise of peace that passes human understanding. Phil. 6: 6-7