8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Advent is an invasion.
Have you ever watched a movie with invading aliens? Unless it’s E.T., in the movies when an alien comes to earth it’s not very peaceful. Aliens come to earth to take over and either destroy or enslave our little planet. But in the Bible when an alien (Jesus) came to earth (advent) it wasn’t to destroy or enslave, it was to invite us into God’s peace on earth.
That’s the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is an alien invasion with an invitation to find peace on earth. A peace we could never produce on our own, only an outsider could bring peace to us. And not only peace but also the pleasure, or goodwill, or favor of God.
And the good news of Christmas is that God’s invitation into his peace is for everyone. Even the lowest of the low. In the movies the aliens go looking for presidents or rulers. They attack capital cities and big metropolises. But these alien angels announcing our alien baby king went to shepherds. Lowly, stinky, shepherds in a field near the little town of Bethlehem. In the movies the aliens come in big spaceships with ray guns or laser beams. But these alien angels came with songs of glory to God in the highest. They came with a message from Heaven of goodwill and grace. People run away from alien invasions in the movies. But in the Bible people ran toward the invading alien baby king to see him, to get close, to kiss his tiny face, and hold his tiny hands.
Maybe it’s been a long time since you’ve heard the invitation of the alien angels. Maybe you’ve been convinced that God can’t possibly be pleased with you. Maybe you’ve only seen God as a hovering spaceship waiting to blast us in smithereens. Or as an alien parasite that wants to take everything from you. Maybe you can only hear people around you screaming “run for your life” as God appears. But the angels remind us that our alien God came to us, not as a predator to consume us, but as a swaddled infant inviting us to draw near.
Maybe you’ve been wondering if God is for you or against you. Maybe your worship has grown cold and your search for glory has left you more empty than full. Maybe all your past failures and ongoing struggles have left you feeling outside of God’s love. Out in the Bethlehem fields with the sheep. Unworthy to enter the Jerusalem temple with all the other worshipers.
Today will you once again hear the angelic chorus ring out the declaration of God’s heart:
Peace on Earth. Shalom. I want you to flourish.
Goodwill. I am for you, not against you.
For unto us. Yes, that means you.
A savior. I’m here to rescue you.
Who is Christ the Lord. Yes, I’m your king, but I am your shepherd king who lays down his life for the sheep.
In the movies we know the aliens hate us because they come and attack and blow things up. Their very presence proves how mean they are. But we know that God loves us because he came to rescue us from us. Jesus is the alien that came to help us, to rescue us from ourselves, to show us what real peace can be. What real love can be.
So hear the invitation of God today to go and find the Christ child. The Prince of Peace. The one who takes all our sins and all our sorrows and turns them into everything good. The one that will take us to be with him forever. Run to him. Embrace him and embrace your alien God.
- Can you imagine what it would look like if God’s shalom ruled your heart?
- How can you give glory to God today?
- Savior, Christ, Lord – which of these truths encourages you the most today? Which brings peace to your heart?