An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. Luke 2:9
The angel’s appearance coupled with the visual expression of the Lord’s glory (weighty, overwhelming, and all-consuming) created sheer terror in the hearts of the shepherds. The event required divine interpretation, that is, its meaning had to be revealed before their terror could be transformed into wonder and praise.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer observed that we have become so accustomed to messages of divine love and the joy of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel “the shiver of fear” that God’s coming should arouse in us:
The coming of God is truly not only a joyous message, but is, first, frightful news for anyone who has a conscience. And only when we have felt the frightfulness of the matter can we know the incomparable favor. God comes in the midst of evil, in the midst of death, and judges the evil in us and in the world. And in judging it, he loves us, purifies us, he sanctifies us, he comes to us with his grace and love. He makes us happy as only children can be happy
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, p. 8, emphasis added
Dear colleagues and friends, this Advent season may you experience a “shiver of fear” at the enormity of the realities that we contemplate at Christmas: God is infinite and transcendent in holiness, sin is horrifically selfish, destructive and offensive, mercy triumphs over judgment, “the Word became flesh”, and “Behold, I make everything new!”
God bless you. We in the district office love you and love to expend ourselves for your sake.