Do not be afraid

December 26, 2016

Do not be afraid

The Spirit of Christmas is about a miracle of transformation and possibility. For the last four weeks we have been celebrating the Season of Advent. We lit the candles earlier to remind us of our journey.
We have been preparing our hearts; turning our focus towards the East; and opening our hearts to receive the infant Messiah, Emmanuel.

The Season of Advent is about preparation and proclamation. Tonight, we may feel prepared for the miracle, but we may feel unprepared for the proclamation. We may wonder if we are ready to celebrate the Angel’s declaration “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men?”
I believe a good clue is the sense of joy. Are we experiencing an expectant sense of joy, like the shepherds waiting in the fields for the Christ child? Or, are we focused on the rituals of Christmas and the many distractions, which lead us further and further from the miracle of Christ’s birth?
If we are honest, we may feel like we are missing the joy and wonder of Christmas. If so, do not despair, do not be afraid, there is still time.

Even when we cannot feel the Spirit of Christmas it is not lost. The true Spirit of Christmas is more than sentimentality, or a yearning for a nostalgic time long ago. Christmas is more than pictures of snow covered churches or Christmas trees decorated to excess.

The Spirit of Christmas is a revelation—a startling revelation at that! We may try in vain to get ourselves into the Christmas spirit—it rarely works. God’s revelation cannot be forced—it is revealed in the form of an invitation—an invitation to experience the divine through the miracle of our Messiah, Jesus the Christ.
The birth of Jesus Christ signals the beginning of the Kingdom of Heaven, God’s reign on Earth. Christmas is when we accept God’s invitation and become part of something larger than ourselves. Our thoughts, prayers and actions all work towards building the Kingdom of Heaven. The kingdom began in a stable more than 2,000 years ago and is still becoming.

The mystery of the Incarnation, Christ’s birth, is wondrous, sacred and beyond our limited understanding. The Incarnation of Christ’s birth is a term we use to describe a divine moment of perfection, when the word of God became flesh in the form of Jesus. God literally came to Earth in the form of a fragile and vulnerable baby.

On Christmas, we overlook the greatest mystery in the history of humankind. Instead, we wonder what is inside of colorfully wrapped boxes and bags.

Too many Christians have lost touch with the truth of the Christmas season. Christmas is not about you, or about me. It is not about Santa Claus, presents, toys, football games, or holiday rituals. The Kingdom of God includes none of these things.

The birth of Christ is about moving from darkness and sin into the light of hope and salvation. The Incarnation is about living a transformative life, surrounded by the light of God’s love. We are only able to escape the darkness because Jesus Christ is the light of the world.

I suspect, there are many Christians, and non-Christians alike, who have yet to experience the miracle of Christmas. The reasons are as unique as the individual, but often the spirit of Christmas cannot be found because there has been no opportunity for it to be revealed.

Within our hearts, we have not experienced the fullness of time because we have not created enough space for Christ. Like Mary and Joseph searching for a room in the Inn, there is no room. We are filled with other things. Rather than a time of peaceful reflection, Christmas is our greatest sin.
Where is the awe and wonder of the birth of our Savior? Where is the revelation? Where is the light that transforms the darkness?

This Christmas, consider how living in the light of God’s love will transform you. Will your choices be different? How will God’s love change your perspective? How will the light of Christ change your attitude?
I believe living in the light changes everything in our lives.
My Christmas wish for each of you is that you will truly experience the moment when Christmas becomes God’s divine revelation through Jesus Christ. I pray that Christ will be born now within your heart.
I pray you realize that you are part of God’s Kingdom; God’s eternal reign with us. We are blessed beyond measure, though we often forget. We doubt, despair and consumed by fear.

We live in a time of darkness and despair. We live in a world confusion and chaos. We live in a world where human hearts are hungry for the salvation of Jesus Christ. We live in a world where people are desperate for the light of God’s love. Do not be afraid!

We are part of God’s gift to the world. We are now part of the proclamation of the Good News. Go tell it on the mountain Jesus Christ is born.

Bring the hope of Christmas season into every encounter, every conversation, and every gathering—take the light of Jesus Christ into the world.

Do not be afraid. God is with you. Within each of us, there is the light of God’s power—all of God’s power is made perfect in our powerlessness. Do not worry; God will equip you for any task God calls you to do. Humble yourselves and allow God’s awesome strength to be revealed through you.
Remember this when you encounter the burdens of this world. This world and all we know will ultimately fade away, but the birth of our Messiah assures us that there is no ending.

Christ will reign for all eternity. This is the promise of Emmanuel. This is the promise of Christmas. This is the hope that will save the world.

Praise God. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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