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20 December 2013

The news that didn’t make the headlines

The news that didn’t make the headlines

The news that didn't make the headlines

Christmas is just around the corner and suddenly it strikes me that this year it has been more difficult for me to focus on Christ's coming during the advent season than ever before. The busyness increases year after year, life today is faster than ever, but most importantly the headlines and news everywhere are constantly telling me what scandal, tragedy or sensation I should be concerned about today.

The newspaper in the morning tells me about the North Korean dictator executing his own uncle, calling him a 'dog'; the screens in the subway show me pictures of hundreds of thousands of people protesting against the government in the streets of Kiev in Ukraine; BBC at work reminds me of the worrying economy and the Swiss banks that hide untaxed funds, while it also reveals that the royal family's 2013 Christmas cards feature a picture of Prince Charles and Camilla sharing a joke.

So again my mind is filled with pictures and headlines that bombarded me from morning to evening and wouldn't let me rest. But then I pause for a moment and begin to reflect: What was news like for people in Jesus's day? What were they thinking about on the day Jesus was born? Was it any different at all?

I don't think so…

Two thousand years ago, the 'headlines' in Israel were likely the same as ours today. They probably read something like: King Herod the Great jealously executed his third son in only three years. Roman soldiers strike down hundreds of Jewish protesters in the streets of Jerusalem. Tax collectors again increase gate tax by two denarii per family.

Different names, different rulers, different contexts – but essentially the same kind of news. And this must have been in people's minds during this very same season just as today's news is in ours.

Just imagine: The night Jesus was born, the people in Israel were concerned about the government, economy, taxes and some even about what King Herod's fourth wife was wearing. But no one cared about the birth of a little baby boy in a small town of some 500 people called Bethlehem. No one heard about it, no one read about it, no one talked about it. It wasn't in the news. While everyone was thinking about what was going on in the world of their day, they failed to see the greatest news of all in history. It slipped in under the radar.

The writer of Ecclesiastes says: "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun" (1:9). The news we read today is the same as what it was yesterday and likely the same it will be tomorrow. There will be more scandals, more tragedy, more sensation. But the most relevant news might not be in the headlines.

So right now, as you read this, I encourage you to put away your smart phone, tablet, laptop or PC and forget about all the pictures and headlines of the day. Instead,, think about the 2,000-year-old story that is still more important than anything you've read or will read in the news today.

Pause for a moment and ask yourself the question: How has Christ's coming – born as a baby boy in a small town in Israel, unreported in the news of his day, but celebrated again by us this coming week as God's greatest intervention in history – touched and changed your life?

And then let's thank God for His Son and gratefully celebrate Christmas: the news didn't make the headlines of its day.

Timothy Goropevsek is director of communications at the World Evangelical Alliance