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Summary: Christmas Eve 1989: The strong Son of God is what we need when we are out of control in terms of life direction, life circumstances, or sin.

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May God help you if you are going shopping this afternoon! And may God forgive you if you woke up this morning and said, "I guess it’s about time I thought of something for her. “

The trouble is, most of us mere males are reduced to jelly by the trauma of shopping. In the first place, we don’t know what we want because we don’t know what you ladies want. You may have dropped hints all along the way from Labor Day through Halloween and Thanksgiving, but we didn’t get it. Start next year with the Fourth of July and we might have time to understand.

And in the second place, our idea of shopping is to decide what we’re looking for, make a beeline to the store, grab it up, pay whatever the price is – high, higher, or highest – and beat a hasty retreat. Easy came, easy go. We are not equipped for evaluating how it will look against the blue blouse … but then what about the burgundy coat she always wears this time of the year, and isn’t it a little too gaudy for her personality? We are not equipped, I say, for dealing with such subtleties, and we are certainly not going to tramp all across three malls to uncover the last scraps of Victoria’s secret. It can stay a secret for all we care; what’s wrong with getting the present at K-Mart?

Beyond all that, however, the thing that is going to snarl both men and women alike today is the discovery that too many things are out of control. Too many things we thought we were in charge of we find we are not in command of at all. We are going to be out of control, many of us, before this Christmas season gets packaged and ribboned and positioned under the tree.

My wife and I spent one morning this week getting the larder stored up for guests and for family meals this weekend. We went to one of those little private grocery stores where the aisles are jammed, the prices are allegedly low, the selection unusual, and the atmosphere, well, is different from your average Safeway. I found out that not only can you get good products at a reasonable price, but you can get many other things as well: you can get elbows in your ribs, you can get insults thrown in your face, and you can even pick up free abuse from the butcher. The whole place seemed out of control …chaotic, smelly, rushed, just out of control. No place to do your daily Bible readings, I’ll tell you that.

This is just an out-of-control season: the traffic, the money, the time, the expectations, all of it out-of-control.

But in the end I think you have to conclude that if you and I feel the tensions of Christmas and experience them as out of control, that is only a condensation of what happens to us much of the rest of the year. Christmas is not the only time you and I feel as though too many things are out of our control. It’s just that at Christmas, with the pressures of time and money and expectations and feelings, this out-of-controlness becomes more apparent.

The truth is that you and I are plagued with too many things, all of the time, that we cannot manage, too many things that are not the way we would want them to be and too many things that we thought we had nailed down, only to find out they’re coming up loose. Out of control. And that is why we need Jesus Christ as the Son of God.


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