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The message of Christmas

In a moment I'll send this latest article to the editor by email. Alternatively, my phone offers me at least six alternative ways of sending a message and of course I could still pop it in the post or even fax it, if they still had the equipment! We have more methods of communication, more ways of sending messages, than ever before in history. And yet while the form of the message changes, it's still the content which is the most important thing.

Whether you hear good news from an email or a newspaper headline, we rejoice the same way. Whether sad news comes in a text or is given by a familiar friend in person, it remains sad.

At Christmas, angels pop up everywhere in the familiar nativity events – appearing to Mary, Joseph and of course the shepherds. Each time they fulfil their basic role: God's equivalent of the old telegram boys, or the modern beep and red dot on the phone which indicates a new message. The word 'angel' means 'messenger'. So while they were obviously an awesome sight – as we sing in a familiar carol, the shepherds were seized with 'mighty dread' – what is most notable about them is the news they carried.

The 'glad news' they carried, the same news given to the wise men by interpreting the appearance of a star, was news which is normally joyful: the birth of a child, Jesus. We sometimes think of Jesus himself as a kind of messenger, passing on wisdom from God in his teaching. But the Bible talks about him not as yet another form of messenger but actually as the message himself. It's not what he said, but who he was which is the true good news of Christmas.

So whether you're bracing yourself to send hundreds of cards or hoping for a message from a loved one, I hope this Christmas you take the chance to be reminded – at a carol service, at a Messy Nativity, on the radio or in person – of the true Word from God, who took human form to be good news for each of us.
By Richard Trethewey

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