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Summary: "The angel said to them, ’Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people"

Good News of Great joy

Title: Good News of Great joy

Text: "The angel said to them, ’Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people" (Luke 2:10 RSV).

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-14

Offertory Prayer: Loving Father; we thank you for the rich fellowship we enjoy as a part of your family. We thank you for work to do in and through your church. Bless our efforts to the end that we might be your people in this community, and that we might be the means of bringing light to those who live in darkness. Accept our monetary gifts today that we might share in the work of the church and in the missionary enterprise to the ends of the earth. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Introduction

On this Lord’s Day morning immediately before Christmas, many of us are experiencing the joy, peace, and happiness that come during this festive season. On the other hand, many others are experiencing the agony of what is known as "the Christmas blues."

One psychiatrist has said, "While Christmas brings joy to many, it stirs feelings of sadness in others-especially single people living alone." A psychiatrist who served as the director of the psychiatric crisis clinic at Hartford’s St. Francis Hospital declared, "There is an increase in what we call neurotic depression as distinct from another kind of depression which is called psychotic depression. Neurotic depression, unlike the psychotic kind, tends to last a short time. Very often it will resolve shortly after the holiday season without any particular treatment."

Why is it that some people feel blue at Christmas? Why is it that during the week immediately following Christmas and the first week in the new year there are more admissions to psychiatric hospital wards than at any other two week period? Why is it that more attempts are made to commit suicide immediately following the Christmas season than at any other period of the year?

Christmas is a time of joy for some but a time of real depression for others. A number of factors contribute to this.

1. Some experience depression at Christmas time because they have

exaggerated expectations of themselves and others. They hope that

Christmas will solve their problems, and when it doesn’t, they go into

despondency.

2. Christmas brings out our need for dependence on others. At times they fail us, and this can be very depressing.

3. In the United States, Christmas is a family-oriented experience that often causes memories to come to the front. Some of these blight rather than bless, hurt rather than help.

It is highly possible that each of us will come into contact with someone during these next couple of weeks who is experiencing depression. Depression can be detected in one who experiences a serious loss of sleep or appetite. Only those who are alert will recognize this as depression.

It has been suggested that each of us can give psychological first-aid to depressed people if we can engage them in meaningful activity, such as volunteering to help someone else. In some instances we will need to help them

alter their goals and their expectations for life. They may need to cut their tasks down into little pieces so that they can get a firm grip on them. We can help them to feel more hopeful and optimistic.

The Christmas season is the time when more alcohol is purchased and consumed than in any other period of the year. People use alcohol as a method of coping with stress and depression. The use of alcohol as a beverage does relieve tension temporarily, but it brings on a depression that is even worse.

Does the message of Christmas, which is supposed to produce great joy, have anything relevant to say to people who are depressed? Christianity, which begins with the promise of good news that will bring great joy, should be more than just a strategy that enables us to cope with the pressures of life. Through the Christ who came at the first Christmas, God provides us with the ability to cope with life in a manner that will bring joy to us and will reflect his glory. The gospel, which is not good advice but good news, can produce great joy in living every day.

The angels who announced the birth of the Christ to the shepherds were bringing good news that continues to be good news for all who will listen and respond.

l. There is good news about God in the gospel.

A. The message of Christmas is that the God behind and above it all is a living God. The Bible does not seek to tell us when and how our universe came into being. Its major concern is with the who and the why. The writer of the book of Hebrews declares, "By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God" (Heb. 11:3 RSV). The message of Christmas speaks to us of a living God who is above and behind the world. He is the God who comes into this world. He wants to dissipate our fears and encourage us to live a life of faith.

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