This year has been a year of almost unremitting bad news, but the Christmas story is definitely a story of good news: in the words of the angel to the shepherds: ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.’ (Luke 2:10)

News means ‘newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent events.’ How many times have people scrolled through news briefings this year looking for the most up-to-date news, looking for newly received information? But sometimes, we need good news that brings great joy even if it is not newly received or a recent event. Each year, we re-tell the Christmas story, not because it is recent or newly received, but simply because it is good news!

Christmas is a time when we remember that God cared enough to enter our world, to take on human flesh, to embrace humanity. It’s a time when we remember that God has a human face and that face is called Jesus. It’s a time when no matter how hopeless things seem, no matter how dark, we see light shining. (Is 9:2) Because Jesus was born in Bethlehem as a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger, there is hope; there is peace; there is great joy. We need to be a people who embrace Jesus and His good news with courage and faith and joy.

The Christmas story is not just a fairy-tale to be dusted off out of sentiment; it is a story packed with good news and truth and is capable of bringing great joy. Jesus was born to conquer the grave, as one of the songs heard tonight declared. (Christmas Day’, Chris Tomlin) This year, more than ever, when death statistics have been rammed down our throats on a daily basis, we need to know that there is good news which defies death, and the fact that Jesus came as that baby in Bethlehem reminds us of this truth. Not even death can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

The angel’s message to the shepherds reminds us there is no need to fear. Perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18) In God, we can know freedom from fear and can receive a joy that gives us strength. (Neh 8:10) Be careful what news you listen to. Embrace the good news of Jesus Christ.