I was just reading a Christmas Eve sermon by William Sloane Coffin - the great Riverside Church preacher of the 70's and 80's -- and in it he quotes the German theologian Karl Barth: "Christmas without fear carries with it fear without Christmas". The point being -- that if we are not awed by the reality of God coming in Christ, if we do not embrace "the fear of the Lord" at Christmastime, then we will never let God and the hope of Christmas help us with our little fears. We will remain anxious if Christmas remains a sentimental holiday. We will continue in our worries if Christmas is simply about getting our gifts purchased and given. But if Christmas is receiving the certain truth of what God is doing in Christ -- then all our little fears dissolve into the fearsome awesomeness of God.
Perhaps we'll know we have truly celebrated Christmas by how little or how much we are afraid in the days ahead.
Merry Christmas all.