At that time there were shepherds nearby in the fields around Bethlehem tending their sheep.

A messenger of God came to these shepherds with great power and light. They were terrified. But God’s messenger said, “Do not be afraid; I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people. Today in Bethlehem a child has been born who will bring healing to all people; he is God’s special gift to the world. Go to Bethlehem where you will find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a cattle shed. When you see this child, you will know that my words are true.”

I wonder what sounded like “good news” to these shepherds in the fields watching over their flocks by night.

I wonder what people in the world today would perceive to be “good news”.

I wonder what would be “good news” in my life.

I would not mind hearing news of the end of poverty, the final solution to all international conflicts, a solution to global climate change, an end to Third World debt, starvation, human trafficking and the drug trade. I might settle for a solution to the conflicts in families and the tragic divisions among people of faith.

But none of these worthy visions is the good news the angels announced.

They brought only news of a birth. Admittedly it was a miraculous birth. But, in the end, it was just a tiny, vulnerable infant in a lowly corner of the earth, born into an impoverished family who belonged to a powerless nation.

What could make such news “good”? Why is such a story a source of “great joy for all people”?

This news opens me to a place where I find the light born in that infant and realize that, despite all appearances, the power of love and goodness and truth and beauty is stronger and more real than all the brokenness, sadness, and tragedy I wish might be solved in the world and in my own life.

The “good news” is that love lives on. Love empowers me to open, even in the darkness and despair to a place deep in my being where I experience the inescapable triumph of life over all the pain of the human condition.