I had a small revelation reading the weekly church bulletin this week. It contained the usual notices you would expect along with the spoilers for the Christmas story.
There is a bit in the story where the angels show up. If it’s a school production it will be performed by the cute blond haired kid from the 8 year olds shouting out, “Hark, and be not afraid, for I bring to you glad tidings of great joy!”
I’d forgotten half of these old fashioned words even existed but it doesn’t matter what translation you read, the bottom line is the same.
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve good something amazing to tell you.”
What didn’t happen was an earthquake (that comes 33 years later ..) and an angel bellowing, “Crap yourselves, puny humans, because what I’m going to say is going to make you wish you had never been born!”
What I realised is that once in a while (although I’m getting much better!) I still have a tendency to picture God as if it had been the scary angel speaking about Jesus. Do you do that too? On one hand we’ve got an angel saying “you gonna love this!”, and on the other hand a picture of a God with his grumpy face on.
All said and done, Jesus is a nice guy. He wasn’t sent into the world by being born in a cattle stall with a carpenter dad as a midwife, to judge and condemn it but rather save it. He told deformed limbs to straighten out, eyes and ears that didn’t work to work – all sorts. Only hours before His arrest (spoilers) He washed his students feet as an example of how the conventional wisdom of leadership needed to be turned on it’s head.
If you imagine your very best friend, the one who cheers you on and believes the best about you when no-one else will, that’s pretty close to what Jesus is like. Sure, He had some harsh words to the hypocrites in the establishment and was known to drive loan sharks out of the temple with a whip, but the rest of the time He was the guy who who took time track down the outcast, the hurting and the forgotten. He took the guys who washed up at school and ended up in the family business as his own personal study group. He is just the absolute representation of total kindness and love.
Jesus said “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father”. If this is the Jesus they saw, then that’s not an image of a god with his grumpy face, and that’s the good news the angel was going on about!