The best Christmas present is God’s love
Published 11:35 am Wednesday, December 23, 2015
At our church we have the Festival of the Nine Lessons and Carols like a lot of churches do. But we have ours a bit early. We are blessed to have six students from Longwood who serve as Choral Scholars, so we have our service before they head home for Christmas break.
Over the last two years our choir has sung one particular piece for this service which has become my favorite. It is “Angels are Making Their Rounds.” It’s a song written in just the last few years, and it is a wonderful up-tempo piece that sings of the stories of Luke and Matthew; of angels going around, telling Zechariah, Joseph and Mary that God is about to do something special in the world, and God is going to do it through them.
To each of these people, the angels have the same message. It is a message we need to hear in our time, in our days filled with scary headlines and angry words and heated rhetoric that seems a long way from “peace on earth and good will among all.”
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The words are: “Fear not.” God sends special messengers (that’s what the Greek word angelos means) who proclaim to scared and fear-filled people: “Fear not.” It’s not that God doesn’t take our fears seriously. God knows we fear war, famine, climate change, brokenness in our families, even the too-close approach of God. But God assures us that we do not have to fear.
Why? That’s the rest of the message. “The Lord is with thee.” God is with us. It brings back to mind the word, “Emmanuel,” God is with us. Not “God is against us,” or “God is going to get you if you don’t watch out.’ But, “God is with us.”
As we celebrate Christmas this time around we know that we have plenty to worry about. But the message to us from God – 365 times in the Bible, in fact – is “Fear not.” It’s as if we need daily reminders that we do not have to fear.
But as we also hear the other part — the Lord is with you. It might be helpful to consider if we are with the Lord or not, and take seriously — and joyfully — our role in the spiritual journey. But God doesn’t base God’s love on what we do, but on who God is. God is love. God comes. God is present. God cares. God is real.
When you come down to it, that’s the best Christmas present any of us can receive.
REV. DR. TOM ROBINSON is pastor of Farmville Presbyterian Church. His email address is email@example.com.