There’s a great variety of traditions in the way ‘Breaking News’ has been passed on throughout history. The first organized courier service dates back to Ancient Egypt when Messengers were employed by the Pharaohs to hand deliver important news either carved in stone or written on Papyrus.

The first recorded account about a running messenger is in Ancient Greece when runners were used to declare wars and announced victories. The most famous of these is Philippides who, around 2,500 years ago, ran from Marathon to Athens to announce to the Greek council that the Persians’ had been defeated in battle: “Joy to you, we’ve won” he declared and promptly fell down dead!

Around 2,000 years ago the Archangel Gabriel was a Herald who proclaimed the Good News about the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:10-14).

Long before the Royal Mail was set up, Town Criers walked through the streets ringing a bell calling out: “Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!” Then, having got everyone’s attention, they announced the time of town meetings and other items of interest to the people.

Even after printed newspapers came along, you could hear the voice of a newspaper boy crying out: “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” Then he would shout out the day’s headlines, hoping to get the attention of those who were passing by so that they would buy a newspaper.

Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah (chapter 40) to tell how a messenger would spread the Good News of the coming of the Messiah. John the Baptist was the messenger Isaiah spoke about. John was a very popular figure and amassed a great following, but he always told the people the Good News about Jesus (Mark 1:7): “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am. He is so much greater, I am not even worthy to untie the straps on his sandals.”

Many thought John the Baptist was strange (which he was, living in the desert and surviving on locusts and wild honey). His message was unpopular. He told people of the need to repent (turn away) from their wrong doing, be baptised and to follow God. Many became angry with him. In fact, John ended up being beheaded because of some of the things he said. It’s not always easy sharing the Good News of Jesus with others.

But just as John was faithful in bringing the Good News of Jesus to the people of his day, each of us, who would label ourselves ‘Christian’, are called to be God’s messenger to share the Good News of Jesus in our day.

If you haven’t heard about the Good News of Jesus, or you are not quite sure about what you believe as a Christian, then the Alpha Course might be just what you are looking for. You may have heard about Alpha on social media or seen adverts on buses or on the tube. Alpha is a place to discover more about the Christian faith. Each week we address a key issue of life from a Christian perspective, followed by a discussion, an opportunity to ask any question you want, express opinions or, alternatively, you are free just to sit and listen.

An Alpha Course starts at Emmanuel on Sunday 30 September at 6.00 pm. We begin with afternoon tea and the talks begin at 6.30 pm – we finish promptly at 8.00pm. We’d love to have you with us – even if it is only for the introductory session: ‘Is There More To Life Than This?’  

If you would like to know more, do get in touch with me or contact us by email or leave a message with the Church Office on 01277 658055.

Good News is worth sharing and, in a world where Good News is often in short supply, the Good News of Jesus, of love and mercy and forgiveness, is a welcome antidote to the sadness and cynicism that surrounds us in so many ways. So … what are you waiting for?

This is a copy of my article for the September 2018 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’