“Glory to God in the highest places and peace on earth among persons of good will.” This angelic pronouncement was given to the shepherds on that star-lit night of Jesus’ birth. After the angels departed from them, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go to Bethlehem and see this story that has unfolded.”
God, in Christ, has spoken to us. Through a brave, maiden young woman named Mary and through an open and honest man named Joseph, God’s gift has come into the world. In this particular story, Mary and Joseph are people of good will. The two learned to be of good will to each other, to the shepherds, and the Wise Ones who came later. The holy couple demonstrated compassion, respect, and kindness to those who intruded upon their privacy. Mary took to heart the greetings and tidings of the shepherds. I imagine Joseph being stoic and strong, yet gentle and welcoming. The story brings me to imagine that the two of them were thoughtful, decent, and loving.
Their demeanor in the world and on that night of Jesus’ birth was no accident. God had spoken in angelic visitations to each one of them. In trust, they obeyed, even welcomed, the news that they had heard. In the Christian story, they are perhaps among the first to be people of good will. Their good will is a response to God, to Christ, and to the Spirit.
Peace on earth comes among those who are of good will; those who are helpful, kind, considerate, hospitable, compassionate, generous, and gracious. Such people are the ones shaped by the presence of God and the Spirit of Christ. Like Mary and Joseph, they are the ones who remain open to the promptings of the Spirit and to angelic conversation.
The people of Deer Park and St. Andrew’s congregations along with many other people of faith are people of good will. What we do matters. It matters a lot. At our best, we prepare for God to come and be among us as holy love, healing presence, forgiving spirit, and deep mystery. God is speaking and speaks now in Jesus, the Word made flesh. This Christmas you can hear again the song of the angels. This Christmas you can experience again the love and tenderness of God who comes as a tiny child. This year and forever more you are people of good will. God is pleased. Peace has a chance.