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Christmas Eve message

Rev Steve Clarge - 27 Dec 2015


 

 Isaiah 41:10-13 “Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Don’t tremble with fear. I am your God. I will make you strong, as I protect you with my arm and give you victories. …..”

During the winter of 1926, Thelma Goldstein treated herself to her first real holiday. Being unfamiliar with the area, she wandered into a restricted hotel in North Miami. 

Excuse me sir” she said to the manager. “My name is Mrs Goldstein, and I’d like a room for 2 nights please.

I’m awfully sorry, madam” said the manager, “but all of our rooms are occupied.” Just then a man came down and checked out. 

“What luck” said Mrs Goldstein” “There’s a free room.”

“Not so fast, madam. I’m sorry, but this hotel is a restricted hotel where no Jews are allowed.” 

Jewish? who’s Jewish? I’m Catholic.” she said.

“I find that hard to believe with a name such as Goldstein. 

Let me ask you, who was the Son of God?” “Jesus, son of mary”

“Where was He born?” “In a stable.”

“And why was he born in a stable?”

“Because a schmuck like you wouldn’t give a Jew a room for a night”

Indifference and Prejudicism isn’t new, whether it’s the rejection of Jews throughout history or a refugee shivering in a makeshift tent in Calais. Fear of the unknown has always fed mankind’s response to reject, rebuff and rebuke that which is different to its self. Herod did the same with the new born Christ child, it’s also the first thing the Angels said to the quaking shepherds “don’t be afraid” of course fear can visit us in other ways such as the sudden news of ill-health, the loss of employment, or the parting from a relationship.

One phrase that has assisted me in this year of uncertainty is: “fear has wings” 

This wonderful statement is a response to the heart of God who’s “perfect love literally throws out fear” this is because He wants us, His children to know that the frightening stuff needn’t be so frightening. 

This ‘perfect love that casts out fear.’ was the fulfilled prophetic promise of ‘Emmanuel’ ‘God with us”, revealed in Jesus Christ, God’s full expression of His father heart towards mankind, where we discover a ‘love that is unlimited, unconditional, uncompromising, a love that is all embracing, all incapsulating, all excepting and yet all mysterious.’ No wonder the gospel is called the ‘Good news!’ 

But good news is hard to find these days. The horrific events in Paris this year once again brought tragedy into our living rooms. The scenes we watched unfold before our eyes caused many to examine their “coping mechanisms.” 

When we hear of such events, fear is one of the emotions that rise up within. It highlights our helplessness, our lack of control and takes away our power, and so produces a gigantious sense of vulnerability. 

Amidst mankind’s war torn history God’s Word speaks loudest: Isaiah 41:10 ‘Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Don’t tremble with fear. I am your God. I will make you strong,’              

The overwhelming question is, “really, where was God amidst the terror, the horror, the abuse, the body floating along a shoreline and the wars, where is he?”

He is right in the midst of it, as God became that which He created, Emmanuel - God with us, not God beyond us. He is not a distant puppeteer who dictates our every move, no, he gives us free will, leaving the dark side of humanity to exercise its ugliest forms as well as its most charitable and beautiful. Choice determines light or darkness, life or death, love or hatred, we choose, so let’s not blame God for mankind’s rebelliousness, that simply doesn’t stand up. We cannot blame Him for our will’s not submitting to His new commandment “love one another as I have loved YOU”!!!!

We can never say of God ‘you don’t understand’ on the contrary, he fully understands as he’s walked our walk, lived our life, in fact, He deliberately gave Himself over to those who He knew would kill Him, yet He still came because His love is greater than His judgment.  Because fear has wings when his love comes in. History is littered with kews, revolts, take overs and uprisings. In times such as these we must turn to the only solid rock that doesn’t move amidst the shifting sands of man’s philosophies and dogmas - that is Christ the rock that causes fear to have wings.

And so amidst such present secularism shines God’s most holy light, God’s most beautiful life and God’s most respondent love. A light that causes the darkness to flee, a life that is meant to be fulfilled and a love that produces a peace that is not an external but internal where fear has wings and flees

Jesus didn’t remain in the crib he grew in statue healed, delivered, fed the poor, liberated women and rose from the dead. If this is true, it is not only a universal truth it’s a personal truth. 

Therefore, we like countless billions before us, can know His light, His life and His love which produces peace and not fear, love not hatred and friendship instead of separation Why, because he said:

‘Don’t be afraid. I’m with you. Don’t tremble with fear. For I’m your God.’

 

In Christ “fear has wings” it flies away in the presence of His love.   

 

What are you afraid of tonight?  Receive his love and let those fears take flight

 

On this holy night, don’t leave Christ in the crib, take him home in your hearts, as you too can know his presence because this Christmas as was the case for the last two thousand He is the gift of peace, a peace the world cannot give. Amen.

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