Summary: A sermon for Christmas Eve.
“Do Not Be Afraid”
By: Kenneth Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
Close to ten years ago, one of my best friends confided in me by saying: “You know Ken, when I was a child I use to be afraid to go to sleep because I would have terrible nightmares.
Now the nightmares begin when I wake up.”
Sadly, there are many of us who can relate very well to what my friend had to say.
Fear is very much a part of many lives.
Maybe we’re afraid of losing our job, or our health, or our finances.
Maybe we’re afraid of not being accepted by others.
Or maybe we’re afraid of God!
Maybe we feel that no matter what we do—it’s not good enough for God.
Maybe we have been taught to think that God is out to get us for some reason.
This idea can lead to many fears and insecurities.
And these fears and insecurities can cripple our ability to love and act wisely.
Because when we live in constant fear of divine rejection, we focus all our attention on securing our own survival….
…leads us further away from the love of God.
You know, fear and love don’t go together very well.
Fear indicates our distrust of the one who claims to love us.
A child trembles when a parent threatens: “If you don’t behave, I’ll send you away!”
A wife is terrorized when a husband warns, “If you leave me, I’ll kill you!”
And human beings cower when we think that God is mean, angry, vengeful and out to get us!
So what does this have to do with Christmas?
Everything! I say.
“And there were shepherds out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. And angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’”
If we are afraid of God, then we most likely feel that we are unworthy, worthless sinners who have no chance to escape a fiery eternal damnation.
And yet, who were these shepherds?
Were they perfect?
Were they sinless?
Did they have all their ducks in a row?
Shepherds were really looked down upon in Jesus’ day.
Their reputations were lowly at best, and religious people snubbed their noses at them and rejected them.
Shepherds were despised and considered unclean.
And they were afraid of God.
They were terrified when the glory of the Lord shown around them…
…because they thought God was out to get them and judge them.
What a beautiful message from our God.
The birth of Christ is to be good news of great joy for all the people…not just the chosen few…
And that, my friends, includes you and me and the person sitting next to you…even the person who is not in church this evening!
How often do we smile at God?
Or do we only approach God with our eyes averted, our heads bowed, and our hands clasped and shaking?
Do we see God as our adversary or our friend?
The birth of Christ affirms that God is indeed our Friend!