Thursday, December 22, 2011

St. John's Epistle for December 22, 2011 ✣ Fear not! ✣ Merry Christmas

Dear church members and friends of St. John's,
Do not be afraid to invite your friends and family to our Christmas Eve Service at 5 pm and 11 pm and our Christmas Day Worship Service at 10:30 am this weekend. The 5 pm service is youth led and features a Christmas skit by the youth. The 11 pm service is a candlelight service with readings and carols. After the sermon in the Sunday morning service we will sing some of your favorite Christmas carols.

Overcoming fear is a challenge for each of us. We live in fear with good reason. We live contingent lives. Death is ever near. There is no guarantee that any of us will survive today or any day. Life is contingent. Three fears are common among many of us: We fear we will make a mistake. We fear rejection. We fear we will not achieve God's purpose for our lives. We live in fearful times. Read the news. You'll find plenty of fearful news. The economy is weak. We hear of wars and rumors of wars.

Overcoming fear is a central theme of the gospel stories of Jesus birth, as evidenced in this portion of our reading for Christmas Day.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." (Luke 2:8-12)

Mary lived in dangerous times. She was afraid when the angel of the Lord appeared to her to announce she was carrying the Christ child within her. The angel's message to Mary was "Be not afraid." The shepherds were afraid when the angel appeared to them to announce the birth of Jesus. The angels told the shepherds: "Be not afraid." This phrase or some version of it appears 40 times in the New Testament. It is a major theme. The sermon this Sunday will consider the "Be not afraid" theme from Luke 2:1-20, is titled Christmas Day amidst the Whimper and the Roar.

May this Christmas day be a day of treasuring what God has done in our world and in your life. Ponder the mystery of how Christ gets born in your heart. May you see your own reflection in the eyes of the baby in the manger. If you feel Christ leading you to give an extra end-of-the-year gift to St. John's, we will be very happy to receive it from you. Merry Christmas!

Peace on earth and good will to all people,
Jon B.       The Rev. Dr. Jonathan L. Burnham / St. John's Presbyterian Church / 5020 West Bellfort Ave, Houston, TX 77035 / Phone 713-723-6262 |

Links of interest:

St. John's Presbyterian Church
5020 West Bellfort / Houston, TX 77035
T. 713.723.6262 / F. 713.723-4015 / Email:
Worship Service: Sunday, 10:30 am / Sunday School: 9:00 am