Where do you go to get your news? A Russian news outlet decided to run an experiment. They only reported good news to their readers for an entire day. The results of the experiment were severely disappointing. The site brought positive news stories to the front of its pages and found any and all silver linings in negative stories (“No disruption on the roads despite snow,” for example). The result was a buffet of sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows—that absolutely no one wanted to read. The news site lost two-thirds of its normal readership that day, according to one of the editors. Good news doesn’t sell. Instead, what sells is controversy, scandal, crime, murder, and war. It is particularly striking then that Christianity’s big idea is about good news.
St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Rom. 1:16). The translated here as “Gospel” can also be translated “good news”. This word comes from the greek translation of the Old Testament. There, it concerned God’s promise to defeat of Israel’s national enemies and the return them from their exile to the promised land. In the Roman world of the first century, “gospel” or “good news” referred to the announcement of the new age of peace and salvation ushered in by a new emperor’s birth, accession to the throne, or victory in battle.
In a world obsessed with bad news, Christianity brings “good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10). The Christian idea of the “gospel” or “good news” incorporates both the Old Testament and Roman ideas, and applies them to Christ. We proclaim the good news of the birth of a new king, the King of Kings. Jesus, the anointed Messiah and King of Israel will bring an era of peace and salvation. He offers peace with God. We are exiled out of paradise and the presence of God, and are now captive to sin, death, and decay. Christ our King has been victorious in battle upon the Cross of Calvary. He has defeated our enemies of Satan, Sin, and Death by his death on the Cross. He has ascended into heaven and sites enthroned as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
This is good news, and with all news, it is information. You do not “do the news”. News is not something which you do. It is a report about what others have done. In this case, it is a report of what Christ has done for us, and how he now offers us peace and pardon with God, and everlasting life in new heavens and new earth, where death, pain, and crying will be no more. (Rev. 21:2-4). It is that good news which calls us to trust in the King who has liberated us and offered us such blessings. That is the good news which is proclaimed here at St. Peter’s, and which keeps us in the truth faith, to life everlasting. May the peace of the good news of Jesus Christ give you hope this fall!
Rev. Matthew Fenn