"Fake News," Pastor Fred Kinsey
“Fake News!” One of the top fake news stories shared on social media last year was, “Pope Francis shocks world, endorses Donald Trump for president.”
Fake News was the Collins dictionary word of the year – though, of course, there are many lists.
Some fake news was truly fun and entertaining. Other fake news alarming. And many are some combination of the two, like:
NASA says, earth will be plunged into darkness for 15 days in November! Pop star Lady Gaga was arrested for criticizing first lady Melania Trump. HIV has been detected in bananas sold at Wal-Mart.
Passers-by came to the aid of comedian Bill Murray when his car broke down in Rochester, N.H. …also in Marion, Ohio; and Shakopee, Minn.; and a number of other cities.
All totally Pants on Fire, false!
I don’t want to belabor the point, on this holy night. We all have festivities to get to. But the problem of fake news – it struck me as I re-read the story of Jesus’ birth in preparation for tonight – is that “Angels” might seem like a source of fake news, today. Now a-days, after-all, we have a healthy skepticism of old-world celestial beings! Some people believe in Guardian Angels, while others think angels are a figment of our imaginations. No polarization intended – but, you see the dilemma!
I’m not sure it will help, but maybe knowing that, according to the Bible – which has stories of angels from the very beginning, in Genesis – angels were often mistaken for the guy next door. Well, maybe not a neighbor exactly, so much as a stranger from out of town, but definitely a living breathing human being!
Jacob wrestled with “a man,” who only later in the story is called an angel. Three visitors came to the home of Abraham and Sarah, and, only after preparing a feast for them, do they disappear, and as the writer of Hebrews in the New Testament says of this event, ‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.’
Pants on fire, Fake News?!?
My contention is this: Angels provide, neither fake news, nor facts. Angels give us revelations, whether it comes from flesh and blood humans, or a mirage of a heavenly host of angels.
Most New Testament scholars all agree that this beautiful birth story of a first-born son to Mary, is created by Luke, who writes some 50 plus years, after the death of Jesus. But, I hasten to add, not in a fake news kind of way! What is certainly true is that Jesus of Nazareth was a real flesh and blood human being himself, and Mary was his mother. No one, though, has verified the shepherd’s story of a heavenly host of angels visiting them, to this day, as we require of journalists. But, the good news and great joy for all the people, I would argue, has been born in many hearts, and more importantly, in the world, ever since.
And being born in the city of David is true, as the foreshadowing, of the final chapter in Jesus story, when Jesus fulfills the hope of God’s chosen people, that all the other nations, will receive the Good News of salvation, and will be adopted on to ‘the tree of life,’ as Paul, a Jew himself, envisioned it. And so, the kingdom and realm of God comes to all the Gentiles, in Jesus. He is a Savior, and the very real expectations of a Messiah in the First Century, are met in him.
And we are the judge, the living example, of that hope, today and every day, in what we believe in, and how we live that out. What is your fear around fake news? What is the way you can model living out the good news for the sake of the world?
Do you believe that angel’s a source of real, or fake news?! We might have heated arguments about that. But what is true is the ‘good news of a great joy’ – that Jesus was born to peasant parents in a manger, knew the hard realities of life that we do, and in the cross and resurrection, he changed the world.
We know that, ‘the winners write history.’ And yet, this story of a lovable loser is one of the grandest of exceptions! A king, and Son of the most high God is born in a lowly manger to an unwed mother. God becomes human – not as the living dead, a zombie – but as ‘the most human of humans,’ to light the way for us, and forgive our hurting of one another, and by his walk, demonstrate the ethic of love, showing us the way forward, inviting us on a journey of trusting one another… that our neighbor, and even a stranger from another town, are just as human as we are, and desire and deserve the same basic things out of this life as we do!
The message of Jesus is, Love, peace and joy! …Anything else is Fake News, no matter who says it – and maybe especially when it comes from the highest, and richest, and most powerful places in our land.
And so – Angels, with news of a king born in a lowly manger! Somehow that seems more trustworthy and true to me today, than all the reckless tweets bombarding us daily, urging us to simply ‘trust him.’
I’m with Mary, pondering the good news we hear. It seems more important than ever, to treasure in our hearts what is really true for us today, and not be thrown off track for how we live in the world together.
Tonight we ponder this: “to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
And the heavenly host sings:
"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom [God] favors!"