But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you."

(A) Introduction.

For many years I have conducted a Christmas morning service in our little village chapel. Not many attend but it is a very happy event. The message is quite light-hearted although I try to make a few challenging points as well. I am going to share with you my Christmas Day talk for 2003.

(B) Christmas is a time for getting news.

I do look forward to receiving news at Christmas from old pupils or friends who have moved away. Some is:

    (a) Interesting.
    Victoria wrote about her trip to Cairo: This resulted in many wide-eyed Egyptians as they spotted a rare "blonde". I had children running behind me wanting to touch my hair... I have to admit that when Victoria used to walk into my classroom, usually with a smile upon her lips, I was wide-eyed and found the temptation to stroke her hair irresistible.

    I even learned something about our 81 year-old organist in the annual letter from her daughter. Sheila wrote of her mother: She has done a lot of interesting things this year and some firsts. The real adventure of the year was a balloon trip with my brother.. This was news to me.

    (b) Bad.
    Olivia's card just contained the message: I'm afraid my year deteriorated after I saw you. Mum died in June and I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September....

    I was sorry to receive this news as I am fond of Olivia but the news was worse for her. It was Olivia's bad news rather than mine.

    (c) Good.
    Chantelle just put in her card: We had a little girl on 8.7.03. I have enclosed a photo of her. She has my blue eyes.. I was pleased. I used to admire Chantelle's cornflower blue eyes at school. I would walk up to her and say, "Stand still; I want to stare into the prettiest eyes I know." She didn't mind and bore with her Geography teacher's peculiarities.

    Yes, I was pleased but not nearly as pleased as Chantelle and her husband. The blue-eyed baby was their daughter and not mine.

Most good news in Christmas cards, or annual letters, is someone else's good news. That is why annual letters are not universally popular. There are some unfortunate individuals who grow tired of reading about other people's good news.

(C) What qualifies as good news.

What would be good news for you? Surely it is information that makes your life better.

It might be only a small thing. I enjoyed reading recently a Christmas tale by the Irish author, Alice Taylor. One Christmas Eve the neighbour, a filthy old woman called Nell, dropped in for a cup of tea and piece of cake. She sat at the kitchen table as Alice's mother stuffed the goose.

Next morning Nell arrived, as the family were about to sit down to their Christmas dinner.

"Did you find my teeth?" she asked. They weren't where she kept them: in the jam jar on her dresser.

Alice's mother asked, "But Nell what makes you think they are here?"

Well, Nell thought she took them out at the kitchen table as she was getting stuck into her cake. Then, looking at the goose waiting to be carved, she had a brainwave.

"That's where they are. I must have dropped them into the dish of onions on the kitchen table. My teeth are in the stuffing."

Alice's mother demurred and invited old Nell to stop for dinner.

"Stay to dinner and eat my own false teeth," she cried before leaving in indignation.

The family looked horror-stricken at the goose - filled with beautiful potato stuffing and Nell's teeth. They watched in awful anticipation as mother slowly dished out the stuffing. Great was their relief when no false teeth were discovered. It was good news. Their Christmas dinner was not spoiled.

It might be something more important. My friend KB went recently to the doctor about his prostate gland. He had a blood test to check that his prostate gland was not cancerous. The result of the blood test was good news. There was no trace of cancer. It set his mind, and the mind of his wife, at rest.

Good news is anything that makes life better.

(D) So what qualifies as good news for ALL people?

Not everyone suspects false teeth in their goose stuffing and not everyone is troubled by a swollen prostrate gland. Some don't even have one!

One man's good news is not always anothers. My friend Mr John Clarkson told me this story of his boyhood in Moulton near Newmarket. I wish I could tell it as well as he did! The squire, a rich horse-breeder, was out one day shooting rabbits. He shot one and as he walked along the road with a bulging game pocket he came across the poorest man in the parish - Fred, the assistant roadman. Fred was working with a few others cleaning out a ditch. The squire said, "Would you like a rabbit, Fred?"

The assistant roadman saluted and said, "Yis Sir! Yis Sir! Make more gravy than a tatey."

The rabbit was good news for Fred - he was going to have gravy with his mashed potatoes - but it wasn't such good news for the other workmen who were not given a rabbit.

There are only two problems that all men and women have in common: sin and death. The good news for everyone of us is that a "Saviour has been born to you." Jesus came to save ALL from sin and the finality of death.

The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. Jesus came to give eternal life to all who believe in him.

This is the best of news. It is transforming news. It gives hope where there is despair; it gives peace where there is a troubled mind; it gives joy where there is doubt and despondency; it gives love where there is fear.

(E) Another kind of good news.

Just before Christmas I took my friend Mrs Haylock out for a meal at the Cock Inn in Lavenham. After we had been eating a few minutes our waiter came up and asked, "Everything all right, Sir?"

"Yes," I replied, "the meal's excellent, we are enjoying it very much."

The waiter looked pleased. Perhaps, he told the chef and pleased him as well. It is always good news when our service is appreciated; when our efforts benefit others.

The best news I had all year was in the form of an e-mail from North Carolina, USA:

Dear Mr. Reed,
Today I passed across your website and read your writing about the prophetess, Anna, from Luke 2. Such encouragement I found in it. My husband and I live in Winston-Salem, NC and as much as I am thankful for the freedom and abundance in America, I also feel sometimes that I am surrounded by a pagan culture. I want to meditate on the incarnation rather than focus on the fleeting frenzy some refer to as the 'Christmas Spirit', so when I saw your reflections on Anna, I was delighted.

I will be 60 on my next birthday, so the thoughts on growing older were helpful as well as comforting. Thank you for sharing your time with others on the net.


When I read that e-mail I was glad that I had been of service and a blessing to someone. It was good news for me.

At Christmas there could be good news for heaven. Yes, there could be good news for God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit and all the angels who worship before the throne. Anyone who receives with gratitude what Jesus offers - forgiveness, salvation and eternal life - will make God glad.

There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents.