Bethany Newsletter – Dec 2018
Do not be afraid
The Christmas story usually isn’t thought of as a scary story. And yet in the Gospels, a phrase that is repeated over and over is: “Do not be afraid.” It was one of the first things an angel told Zechariah, Mary, Joseph and the shepherds. They got scared when all of a sudden an angel appeared. You’d probably be scared too if a big strong creature who was clearly not of this world came out of nowhere and started talking to you.
People getting scared when God comes near has been going on since Adam and Eve. After they sinned, when they heard God coming they tried to hide from Him out of fear. The sinful, fallen human race has been fearful ever since. Our guilty conscience gets scared in the presence of holiness.
In having the angels say, “Do not be afraid,” God was not saying our conscience has it wrong and there is no reason to be scared. The Bible says, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). Our sin is a huge problem. It is right for a person to be fearful in the presence of God if their sin has not been dealt with. It is dangerous foolishness to be unforgiven but not fearful before the holy, almighty God.
“Do not be afraid” is a good news declaration that God has come to put an end to the problem that produces all the fear. After telling Joseph to not be afraid the angel let him know the reason why. “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus went to the cross and paid the penalty in full for all of our sins. He satisfied the demands of the law. Because of the cross, the fear of judgment hangs over our head no more. We have been set free from the fear of facing what we deserve.
Jesus has come to change our attitude toward the news that God is here. By faith in Christ, God is no longer the Judge who scares us. We can now know Him as the loving Father who cares for us. Instead of fear the Bible says, “… we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus … let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19, 22).
When we are trusting in Jesus we are not fearful about God coming near. Instead, the good news that Jesus is Immanuel – “God with us” – brings peace. The Lord of lords loves us and is with us. We don’t face the challenges of life alone. The One who has conquered sin and death is with us.
The world is constantly trying to scare us. People tell us to be afraid of who or what is coming. We don’t need to fear because we know Who has come. We don’t get fearful when we hear that God is near. Because God is near fear is gone. No matter how scary the world may seem, God’s good news declaration is still true: “Do not be afraid.” The Prince of Peace has come.
Join us for our special Christmas services as we worship the Lord and celebrate His coming. Bring along a friend.
Christmas Evecandlelightservice 10 p.m.
Christmas Day worship service 10 a.m.
We’ll be decorating the church for Christmas on Sat. Dec. 8 starting at 10 a.m. Everybody is welcome to come and take part.
The Sunday school Christmas program will be Sunday, Dec. 9 at 5 p.m. The Sunday school students will be sharing the good news of Jesus’ coming in word and song. A dinner will be served afterwards. Everyone is invited.
Men’s breakfast will be Sat. Dec. 8 at 8:00 a.m. If you’d like to help prepare the breakfast talk with Pastor Craig.
We’ll be having Advent services on Wed. Dec. 5 and 12 at 7 p.m. These will be times to take a break from the busyness of the season and spend time in worship, singing Christmas carols, praying together and thinking about Jesus’ promise to come again.
A living nativity scene will take place Sat. Dec 15 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the overflow parking lot. There will be people in costumes, animals and a sharing of the Christmas story. If you’d like to be in the scene or help out in some way talk with Nancy Magathan or Angie Cereghino.
Everybody is invited to the parsonage – 575 34thStreet – on Wed. Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. for a time of fellowship.
We’ll go Christmas caroling on Sun. Dec. 16 and share in song the good news of Christ’s coming. We’ll meet at Eric Paulson’s home at 195 W. Kensington at 4 p.m. We will go from there to carol at the area care centers and then return to Eric’s for food and fellowship. Pizza will be provided. You’re welcome to bring veggies or treats to share.
On Sunday Dec. 23 we’ll have a special Christmas celebration during our Sunday school time, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Special Scandinavian food will be served and we’ll sing carols. Everyone is invited.
On New Year’s Eve at 7 p.m. we’ll close out the old year and look forward to the new one with a special time of prayer at the church.
Sat. Dec. 8, 10 a.m. Decorating the church
Sat. Dec. 15, 5 p.m. Living Nativity scene