Tuesday, November 30, 2010

CHRISTMAS TIME IS SCARY TIME

DRIVERS TEXTING SANTA WHILE DOING 75 MPH, SCARY! Drivers switching lanes like shoppers in line at Safeway, scary! Following a Toyota Corolla with three Christmas trees tied to the top, scary! Not to mention the attitudes and actions of those who have been up all night in order to get in the store doors by 3:30am only to shop for 8 hours straight! Yep, scary!

You see what I mean? Christmas time is a scary time.

But, when you think about it, Christmas time, if I can actually use that word anachronistically, was a scary time from the beginning. Consider Zachariah's response in Luke 1:11-12 -- fear. How about Mary's response in Luke 1:29 -- fear. Let's not forget Joseph's thoughts in Matthew 1:20 -- right again fear. And then there were the simple shepherds out in the fields late at night as recorded in Luke 2:8-9, their response, yep, fear. I suppose that is why in each of these encounters the angel had to say, "be not afraid." (Luke 1:13; Luke 1:30; Matthew 1:20; Luke 2:10)

As I thought about Christmas and fear (the subject of my sermon for the second Sunday of Advent), I realized that fear often comes when we can't see what's coming around the bend, or when there is something we cannot control, or leaves us feeling out of control. These realities can bring fear to bear in each of our lives just like it did to Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, the Bethlehem shepherds, or myself driving down the 680 freeway last weekend.

The amazing, grace-filled reality of Christ's coming 2000 years ago, was that He came not to bring fear, but to release us from its powerful grip! He came not to make us slaves to fear, but sons and daughters of God the Father.

The question therefore that is before us is, "How do we respond to the announcement of the Advent of the Anointed One?" With fear or with faith? Those who encountered first-hand Christ's arrival can give us great help in understanding the results of our response.

Thus, the theme for this week's sermon...any thoughts?
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