And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear (Luke 2:9).
One Christmas memory always makes me shudder. I'm sitting in a classroom dressed in costume and drenched in sweat. It's not that the costume is too heavy or the room too hot, I'm sweating because the children's Christmas program starts in five minutes, and I'm so nervous I can't remember a single word of my part!
Sheer terror! It's amazing how many times Luke mentions that terror as he describes the first Christmas. First, there was Zechariah in the temple, then Mary; now it's the shepherds' turn. They are sitting quietly watching their sheep on a dark night, when bright light suddenly surrounds them. An angel stands before them shining in glorious splendor. But that's not the source of the brightest light. God's own glory is shining all around them. Their reaction isn't unusual for a sinner in the presence of a holy spirit creature, let alone the brightness of God's own glory. Luke wrote in the original Greek, "they feared with great fear."
Actually, that was the same light the Son of God had been radiating in heaven, before this world was created. But He concealed that glory when He became human and came to our dark world to save us from death and hell by His life, death and resurrection. Because of Jesus' ultimate sacrifice we will be able to stand before Him without fear, when He returns to judge the world. Then throughout eternity we will bask in the glorious light of God's presence forever.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your gracious presence among us. Cleanse us from our sins through Jesus our Savior, that we may live in Your glorious presence forever when He comes again. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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