good news of great joy

    And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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. 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths 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,
        and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
    When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
(Luke 2:8-20 ESV)

If everyone reading this was to think of something they were afraid of, there would probably be a fairly typical list of spiders, heights, flying etc. I doubt anyone would think of angels. In Luke 2, an angel turns up and the shepherds are terrified. I've seen a fair few nativity plays with kids dressed as angels and I can't say I've been terrified as they've come walking in. When we read this we think of a nice little scene with angels singing to the shepherds, when in reality some angels burst through in the middle of the night and the shepherds needed to change their trousers. When we think of Christmas, we think of kids in nice christmas jumpers, but God decided to reveal it to some sweaty blokes in a field.

The angels don't turn up and say "we're thinking about starting a new holiday, everyone be nice to each other". They tell them about Jesus - that he is a Saviour. This is an upopular idea because to need a saviour it means you're in some sort of situation where you need saving. We need to recognise that we need saving. Our pride makes that very difficult - we act like we've got it all sorted but we haven't. Jesus came to save us. He is our Saviour.

The angels also said He was Christ the Lord. Christ is not Jesus surname, but a title - the chosen one, the messiah, the annointed one. God as a man. Jesus was not just a good man or a wise teacher. They wouldn't have killed Him if He just went round telling people to be nice to each other. They killed Him because He said He was God.

At this point a load of angels turn up, they can't help it! They couldn't contain themselves, worshiping God for what was happening. this was a big deal. The all powerful, creator God was becoming a man to rescue us. That's the good news of great joy for all people. That's the real meaning of Christmas.

We're lost, we need someone to find us. We're sick, we need a remedy. We're dying, we need a Saviour.