By Steve Horn, Pastor, First Baptist Church Lafayette
Do you still enjoy getting Christmas cards? With the use of e-mail and social media, I suspect there is an overall decline in sending and receiving traditional Christmas cards.
People, of course, do Christmas cards in different ways. Some cards have rather generic messages related to Christmas. Others take the Christmas season to send family updates of the past year. We get a lot of picture cards which are also nice, especially when those cards are of people that we do not see often.
This December, I have titled my sermon series “Christmas Cards from God.” We are going to explore some passages which give to us messages from angels, which are messages from God. Therefore, just as Christmas cards send messages, angels send messages from God.
The first message is “Do Not Be Afraid.” That seems to be a message that we need to hear for a lot of different reasons. It is one of the messages of Christmas. That was the message to Zechariah, Joseph, Mary, and the shepherds. (Matthew 1:18-21, Luke 1:5-17, Luke 1:26-30, and Luke 2:8-11)
Now, in order to be faithful to the Scriptures, let’s be clear about the matter. The message “Do not be afraid,” from the angels to each one was first and foremost just that. In the most immediate sense, “Do not be afraid” was what they needed to hear because an angel was appearing to them.
I have always wondered if each of these got more or less afraid when the angel said, “Do not be afraid.”
But, might there be other reasons that the angel said, “Do not be afraid?” Might it be that each needed this message “Do not be afraid” for the messages that were going to come?
I believe so, and I believe that some of you need to hear today “Do not be afraid.”
First of all, “Do not be afraid” when God changes your plans. For Joseph, Zechariah, Mary, and the shepherds, God changed their plans. Joseph was excited to be getting married soon. A pregnant fiancé, not of his doing, was certainly not his plan. For Zechariah, he had wanted a child for a long time, but now that he and his wife were beyond child-bearing years, having a child was not in the plans. For Mary, she too was excited about getting married. The announcement from the angel about the child she would deliver, conceived by the Holy Spirit, was certainly not in the plans. And the shepherds, they were just doing what shepherds do. They surely did not need an interruption from a heavenly choir.
For some of you, God has definitely changed your plans in recent days. The report from the doctor is not what you planned. The note from HR indicating you no longer had a job was most definitely not in the plans. The list of things that cause us fear is long.
What does God want you to hear? Do not be afraid.