The Night the Angels Sang
Luke 2:8-20; The Desire of Ages, pp. 47-49
Jesus gives us joy.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10, 11).
Have you ever wanted something very, very much? You prayed for it every day. You dreamed about it every night. Then someone surprises you with what you wanted—when you least expected. Many, many years ago some shepherds wanted something very much. They got their wish in a surprising way.
The sheperds huddled in the fragrant grass. The sheep rested nearby, pale, rounded shapes in the darkness. The moon was only a sliver in the sky. The stars twinkled and glittered with the special sparkle they have on clear nights.
The shepherds murmured in low voices. They were discussing their very favorite topic. It was something they talked about almost every night—the coming of the Messiah. Yes, they were tired from the work of the day. But just thinking about and talking about and praying for the Messiah filled their hearts with longing.
The shepherds sat quietly together in the deep silence of the night. An occasional bleat of a sheep broke the stillness.
Suddenly a bright star flared in the sky. It came rocketing toward them. As the light grew larger and brighter, the whole countryside glowed like noontime. The shepherds blinked, frozen with fright. Some jumped to their feet. Others protected their faces with their arms. Before them stood a dazzling person. Could it be an angel?
“Don’t be afraid!” a pleasant voice said. “I bring you good news of great joy. The joy will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord! This will be a sign that will prove it to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Immediately the angel messenger was joined by a great choir of joyous angels. Angels filled the sky, and they were all singing! “Glory to God in the highest heaven,” they sang. “And on earth peace to all on whom God’s favor rests.”
The shepherds watched the angels in wonder, hardly daring to believe they were real! The bright, happy music swelled and filled the night. Beautiful colors swirled through the sky and dazzled the shepherds’ eyes. The angels’ joy filled the shepherds’ hearts until they felt as if they would burst.
Finally the music drifted slowly away.
The angels flew higher and higher, returning to heaven. The shepherds strained to hear the very last notes of the music as the light faded. Then it was quiet. Heart-pounding quiet. “Did you see that?” one shepherd gasped.
“They were real, weren’t they?” asked another.
“I’ve never heard or seen anything like it!”
“To Bethlehem! The angel said the Messiah was born this very day! This very day!”
One joyous shepherd grabbed his staff and began racing down the hill toward town. All the others followed. That’s how it is with God’s free gift of grace. It gave the shepherds great joy. It still gives people joy. Jesus gives us joy.