“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’” (Luke 2:13–14, NIV84)
The shepherds sat in amazement as they glanced up into the night sky to see an angel from heaven speaking to them about the birth of the long promised Messiah. And before they could adjust to the realities of that experience, the crack between the earth and heaven widened until the shepherds were able to see a “great company of the heavenly host” with the angel. Just stop for a minute. Can you imagine what it was the shepherds were experiencing? What it must be like to see what your faith has only imagined and dreamed of? They received the affirmation that there is more to life than this world. They saw with their own eyes that heaven is a real place.
The sight alone would have been captivating enough to last a lifetime. But it didn’t end there. All of a sudden the great company of the heavenly host began to sing. The shepherds heard the angels praising God, “Glory to God in the highest!” In heaven that is the first impulse of all of its residents, unlike the residents of this world, who seem to focus first on themselves. But what if our first thought were one of praise and gratitude? Would it change the way our life is lived out? I think it would for me.
The next thing the shepherds heard was, “and on earth peace.” Did you catch it? The angels were telling us that as certain as God is to be glorified for all that He has done, that the promised Savior born today would bring peace to a hostile and broken world. Who of us wouldn’t appreciate a little peace in our lives. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came into the world to bear all of its brokenness in order that we might have peace — peace with God and peace with one another.