A Time Of Hope And Promise…
Here’s a plug…I listen faithfully to 97.9 FM radio, WSPT “The True Oldies Station.” Recently the owner of WSPT, Rick Muzzy (Muzzy Broadcasting) read a statement he wrote about the local economy, an “update” of one he offered a year ago. I was impressed that finally someone in the media was saying something positive, hopeful, optimistic. Among all the “doom and gloom”-sayers, and there are always many, it was like a breath of fresh air to hear Mr. Muzzy’s good words. I have his permission to use parts of it:
“We need to be careful when listening to the doom and gloom from the national media. Did you know that Over 92% of us in Central Wisconsin are employed?. The National Bureau of Economic Research announced in September the great recession ended 15 months ago. We have had four quarters of economic growth. Winter heating bills will drop for the third straight year this year. The latest news from General Motors shows they were up 11% from the same period a year ago, Ford was up a staggering 40% and the most recent news at the end of October has Chrysler up 37% for the same period over a year ago. If we are afraid because of what we hear from national TV, we will compound the problem and become what they speak.”
Wow. I boldfaced and underlined that last phrase. What a great insight. When we believe fearful words, we become them. We become fearful people. Now I’m not trying to make light of what have been challenging times for many people. But I also believe “we compound the problem” when we choose to believe in fear.
“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…” (Luke 2: 8-10)
I imagine the shepherds were fearful well before they met the angel. Their lives were hard. It took all they had just to eke out a living. The news in the wider world wasn’t good either. There was more bad news from Rome: their taxes would be raised, their freedoms further curtailed, the world must be coming to an end. And now this angel thing. What should they believe? “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…”
I wonder what would have happened had the shepherds chosen to believe and become the bad news. Would they still be in our manger scenes? Would children still parade down church aisles in bathrobes, towels draped over their heads, carrying home made crooks fixed multiple times with duct tape? Would there have even been a manger scene to carry forward?
Sometimes it’s easier to fear than it is to hope; easier to deny than it is to believe; easier to hate than it is to love. But the words to the shepherds on that first Christmas Eve is the same Word that gives us the courage today to have hope for our future, to believe in God’s goodness, and love one another. “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people…”
My brothers and sisters, let us cast out the fear that only offers us emptiness and sorrow. Here at Grace for Christmas 2010, may we speak words of hope and become people of hope.
See you in worship, and may you and those you love have a blessed Christmas.
Pastor Wayne and Colleen