In all of these stories there is a common thread. The angel appears to announce something impossible or unbelievable. In all three situations, there is the phrase “Do not be afraid” before the good news is revealed. All the humans in these encounters are afraid (wouldn’t you be!), yet Zechariah and Mary both seem to have quite good conversations with Gabriel, challenging what the angel is saying, not believing it can be possible. With the shepherds, the angel seems to pre-empt any discussion by telling them what they will find – a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. In all three situations the news that the angel brings then comes true in the lives of those involved, with praises being sung to God for all that has happened.
As some of you are aware, I am a ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ fan. One of the celebrities was talking about her time on the show. “You come into rehearsal on the Monday and you are told what you are going to be doing. You think ‘That’s impossible’ but by Saturday you are performing that dance in front of a live audience.” Just take a moment to reflect on all the ‘impossible’ things that you have done, or we have achieved together as a faith community in the past twelve months. God has been at work in us and through us. It may not be easy to imagine all the ‘impossible’ things that God has planned for your life in 2015. The Christmas story reminds us that God uses ordinary human beings, you and me, to make the impossible possible. Doubting Zechariah, young Mary and the shepherds were all good enough for God to bring us the good news – Emmanuel, God with us. God has and will do wonders through us too, so that we can bring the good news of Jesus to others.