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." Luke 2:10
They lived in a world with no understanding of germs, bacteria or sanitation.
That is why when the Black Death came to Goldberg, Silesia, before Christmas of 1353, the people were petrified. They had heard how in many places the plague had killed one out of every four people. Some cities were filled with the dead. Historians who survived the illness recorded, "All lived in awful fear someone might breath upon them or touch them." No one went out. No one knew who was dead or alive ... or if anyone was alive.
Fear of contamination in Goldberg continued until Christmas Eve.
On that night, a man ventured out of his house. He thought he was the only survivor in the entire city. Every house he passed was filled with memories of those he had loved or with whom he had done business.
Knowing it was Christmas Eve, he put aside his loneliness and fears and raised his voice to sing a Christmas hymn. As his song of praise rang into the night's stillness, another voice -- a voice from behind a door -- echoed his own.
A woman joined him in the street. Their songs brought forth strange echoes, and 25 survivors -- all that were left of the town -- came and sang of the love of God shown to them in Jesus, the Savior of the world, the Savior who could eternally rescue His faithful, even when doctors were powerless.
It has been many years since the world has seen a disease that killed as completely and effectively as did the Black Death.
Even so, this sinful planet still remains filled with spiritual disease, disease which, if left untreated, is always and eternally fatal. Prejudice, hatred, injustice, dishonesty, greed, lust, idolatry infect human hearts with the damning disease of our transgression.
Like the residents of Goldberg, we cannot find a cure or preventative. We cannot hide ourselves from the infection.
This is why we need Jesus. Centuries ago the Savior came to earth, so His life might be spent winning a cure. As Scripture says, "The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin" (see 1 John 1:7).
The Christmas angel announced the birth of Immanuel, who was good news of great joy for all people.
That proclamation shares a Savior whose life would rebuild the broken bridge from sinful humanity to heaven. His sacrifice of love would transform sinners into saints, even as it has offered deliverance to those who were damned.
This is why we remember and give thanks for Jesus, whose blood is the only cure from the plague of sin.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks that because of my risen Savior I am never alone. Because of His sacrifice I am surrounded with Your love. Now may I, by the Holy Spirit's direction and power, share Your salvation with others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries