Summary: Christmas Eve sermon - a wrap up to a series about being "unafraid."

For several weeks we’ve been working on being unafraid this Christmas season. After all, there are several things about Christmas that can be pretty scary, aren’t there?

In case you haven’t considered it, I put together a few things of which to be afraid this Christmas:

• Scrooge is a bit unsettling. Marley’s ghost is pretty creepy too. But that 3rd ghost - the one of Christmas yet to come - he’s scary even in the Muppet Christmas Carol! Ewww!

• Several characters in the Nutcracker Suite. For instance, the 7-headed mouse king and all that! That whole story is actually pretty violent, you realize!

• Having to spend time with your crazy uncle

• Christmas traffic, and especially Customer Service return lines!

• Santa Claus, if you’re 2 yrs old. For years, “the lap of terror” has been haunting children who spend the rest of their lives scarred, pressed into a love-hate relationship with the man it all relies on, while at the same time he can be pretty scary.

Go ahead. Fill in the blanks with your own personal answer.

What are you afraid of this Christmas? Not, “What is stressing you?”

What are you afraid of? In real life, what are you scared of this year?

I think that, far too often, many of the decisions we make in life are based on what we’re afraid of, rather than what we know to be true or right. We let our worries and irrationalities control our choices. Worry about money puts us in debt, or working too much. We fear failure, rejection, or just the loss of security in some area of life. On and on goes the list. Some of those fears make sense. Many of them don’t.

As it turns out, we have a lot in common with people who lived around the time that Jesus was born. In general, we haven’t changed a lot. There was a tyrant king, paranoid about his control and political power. There were the Jewish people, rightly fearing the injustices of an empire that had suppressed them. There were peasant people, some worrying about where the next meal would be coming from. And when you start to run through the list of people named in the story of Jesus’ birth, there are people with fears and this overriding message of encouragement from Heaven: Don’t be afraid. (Fear Not)

Do not be afraid, Zechariah, God has heard your prayer.

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God

Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, Joseph, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit

Fear not, shepherds, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people

Across the board, the reason that Christmas is such a celebrate-able season is because we are recalling a message of hope and the release of fears.

It’s reflected in one of the old carols:

Come, thou long expected Jesus,

born to set thy people free;

from our fears and sins release us,

let us find our rest in thee…

We want you to hear this message loud and clear this Christmas: Do not be afraid.

That is, when you look into the story of what Christmas is all about, you can be freed from most of what makes you afraid - not the imaginary, man-made things that spook us and make it hard to fall asleep at night; but the things that truly cause us to fear: uncertainty, lost security, and death. John wrote in 1 John

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

This Christmas, we want you to be able to say you’re unafraid. When Jesus came to earth as a baby, it wasn’t to create a holiday. It was to enact a plan that ultimately can save us from our greatest enemy - death. So, it’s no surprise to me, that one word of instruction that gets repeated over and over in the Christmas story are these words: “Don’t be afraid.” (invite praise team to stage…)

You can be there this Christmas. It’s a matter of being in a right relationship with God, through His Son Jesus Christ. If you’re not there yet, we want to help you get there. And if you’re ready to be helped that way, we’re happy to help you there any time.

Maybe it’s your heart-cry this Christmas:

Come, thou long expected Jesus,

born to set thy people free;

from our fears and sins release us,

let us find our rest in thee…

Nothing makes Christmas a greater celebration than understanding and celebrating what it’s all about in the first place!

(Joy to the World)

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