In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
On the evening of December 9th, 1968, Eduard Thurneysen had a telephone conversation with the theologian Karl Barth. Barth died a few hours later in his sleep. In the days that followed Thurneysen explained how their conversation dealt with various situations in the world and that Barth’s final words were:
“Indeed, the world is dark. Still, let us not lose heart! Never! There is still Someone who reigns, not just in Moscow or in Washington or in Peking, but from above, from heaven. God is in command! That’s why I’m not afraid. Let us stay confident even in the darkest moments! Let us not allow our hope to sink, hope for all human beings, for all the nations of the world! God does not let us fall, not a single one of us and not all of us together! Someone reigns!”
On Christmas Eve, we are reminded that to be Christian is to be different. The great gift of God into the world in the person of Jesus is the difference that makes all the difference. We, then, have the courage to rebel against the insidious powers of despair because we have the means of grace and the hope of glory! We have Jesus Christ! Jesus reigns! Thanks be to God.