You may have never considered it, but it’s a challenge to come up with Christmas sermons year after year without being too repetitive. Sure, one could simply preach through Luke 2 every year, but a little creativity can go a long way.
This year I will preach a few sermons I have preached in other places, but they will be new to the folk here at Bethlehem Baptist. Here are the notes to one that I preached this past Sunday.
To Fear, Or Not to Fear
Did you know there are actually some honest-to-goodness phobias related to Christmas? Here are just a few.
- Selaphobia – the fear of flashing Christmas lights.
- Ghabhphobia – the fear of presents or gifts.
- Krikophobia – the fear of church services.
- Cyssanophobia – the fear of kissing under the mistletoe.
- Festivalisophobia – a phobia of the whole Christmas thing.
Therefore, it shouldn’t be any wonder that we can find several places in the Bible where angels told people to “fear not.” Folks back in Bethlehem around 2,000 years ago probably didn’t have a fear of kissing under the mistletoe, but they had every reason to be frightened by talking beings clothed in bright light telling them about babies in mangers, virgin births, and wedding plans.
The story of Christ’s birth is associated with great joy, but it was also full of great initial fear. At least one person in the story (King Herod) never got over his phobias and paranoia, but he never heard an angel tell him “fear not,” either.
Below are my notes/outline from which I will deliver this morning’s sermon at South Soddy Baptist Church. When you have a moment, read the Scriptures I reference. See for yourself what the Spirit has to say.
“Fear In the Christmas Story”
1. Luke 1:12 Zacharias (a faithful, praying priest) was “troubled” (G5015, tarasso), and “fear”(5401, phobos) fell upon him.
The angel said, “Fear (phobeo) not…thy prayer is heard.”
2. Luke 1:29 Mary (a confused young girl) was “troubled” (1298, diatarasso)
The angel said, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.”
3. Matthew 1:20 The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph (hurt and scared) in a dream and said, “fear (phobeo) not to take Mary thy wife…”
4. Luke 1:65 “Fear (phobos) came on all that dwelt around” Zacharias and Elisabeth when Zacharias’ “mouth was opened…his tongue was loosed, and he spake, and praised God.”
5. Luke 2:9 The shepherds were “sore afraid” (phobeo phobos megas) …see also Daniel 10:7-8 and Revelation 1:17.
The angel said, “Fear (phobeo) not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
6. Matthew 2:3 Herod, because the wise men asked, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews,” was “troubled” (taraso), and all Jerusalem with him.
7. What should we take away from this today?
- True holiness will expose humanity’s sinfulness.
- Godly fear will be answered with peace, result in obedience, and respond with praise.
- The fear of Christmas will manifest itself in hate, a lack of peace and joy, and no hope.
- If you trust in Jesus, He promises the peace of Christmas year-round. John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.“
Boston Psychotherapist, Dr. Karen Ruskin (an agnostic) said: “[Some atheists are] not unlike the bully who pushes other people down in order to make himself feel better. There are atheists who have a very uncomfortable belief about [their non-belief] they feel the need to push other people down. There is an emotional confusion among some atheists that drives them to promote their product on others [to make them feel better about themselves]. – From an interview on Bill O’Reilly, 12/2/14