I Don't Know Whether To Laugh Or Cry

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Standard;It's Christmas, and I don't know whether to laugh or cry.  Every Christmas season brings out what I call the Christmas police. These are the ones who file lawsuits in an effort to remove any semblance of Jesus in the public square. For instance, in Wichita Kansas, a local newspaper ran an apology after referring to a Christmas tree rather than a community tree at the city's Winterfest celebration.

In Denver a Christian church was barred from the city's parade while Chinese lion dancers and German folk dancers were welcomed.

In Florida, fir trees have been banned this year from government owned property.

A mayor in Massachusetts issued a formal apology to anyone offended by a press release that mistakenly described the town of Somerville's holiday party as a Christmas party.

Schools in Florida and New Jersey have banned all carols. (In one New Jersey district officials have banned the school orchestra from playing songs such as Silent Night because they might remind people of their Christian content.

In Washington State, a school principal banned a production  of A Christmas Carol because Tiny Tims says, “God bless us every one.

A woman in Florida was fired because she kept insisting on saying Merry Christmas to her customers instead of the more generic happy holidays.

And my favorite comes from Plano Texas where the school district banned everything colored red or green from their winter party. Parents were told to bring only white paper plates and napkins.......hey that's festive!

Like I said, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

I want to ask all of those who are offended at the celebration of Christmas, “What are you afraid of?” If this is all fable as you say, if there is no heaven, hell, angels, or God, why not let us alone in what you deem to be our little fantasy world?

And then on the other hand I want to turn to them and say thank you. Because the very fuss that they are making about Christ in Christmas and Jesus being the reason for the season, only strengthens my faith.   

For the Bible is clear that this little baby Jesus will become an offense to many. And every frivolous lawsuit, every ridiculous edict is like God saying, “I told you this was going to happen,” and so I laugh with joyful reassurance.  

But then I want to cry too as I think about the end of those who would deny Jesus.  

I want to thank what I call the Christmas police because they also remind me of another biblical truth. Fear is always present when God is near.     

The angel comes to Mary who is about to experience the nearness of God as no other and the angel says, “Fear not.”
Shepherds are watching their flocks and the sky explodes with holy light and the angel says, “fear not, and he sends them to the nearby town of Bethlehem, where God incarnate is near and lying in a manger.l

You can't get around it. When God is near, fear is near.  I remember when God came near to me in my own life. I had bottomed out, my way of living just wasn't working. And as I was mulling over my sinful ways. It became clear that I was going to have to choose.  On one hand, I could keep on living the way I was, or on the other hand, I could surrender my life to Jesus.

At that very moment fear gripped me. I was afraid of what Jesus would demand that I give up. Because I knew, even as perhaps some of you know that Jesus does not tolerate willful sinful living.    And  you know He would demand that you give up your sinful living, and fear grips you. And I suspect this is what is behind the fear exhibited by the Christmas police.

They know that Jesus presents a choice. Believe in Him and receive Him and eternal life is yours.....reject Him and eternal torment awaits you.

Looking back on my “decision to surrender to Christ, I see now that it was the grace of God, His power alone allowed me to let go of my fear and surrender to Him as my Lord and Savior.  

And I stand here tonight to tell you, that it was the greatest thing that ever happened in my life. When by His grace I moved from fear to trust, I found my fears to be unfounded, because it wasn't so much about what I was going to give up, but more about what He was going to take away and replace with unspeakable joy, peace, happiness, and thankfulness.

We talk about the idea of Christmas cheer, (usually induced by too many Tom and Jerry's or spiked punch) but listen to the Christmas cheer that Jesus offers in Jn 16:33, “In Me you have peace, be of good cheer I have overcome the world.”

Jesus is near here....tonight. He is present in the songs we sing, in the words we speak, and in the hearts of all true believers. He speaks to us as the angels spoke to the shepherds on that Christmas night in the fields outside Bethlehem.

Fear not!  For behold, I bring you tidings of great  joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord!

This Christmas, will you “Come to Bethlehem and see!” Or will you hang back in fear and continue business as usual.  It's not so much about inviting Jesus into your life as it is about allowing Him to overcome your fears. Just as Mary did, just as Joseph did, just as the shepherds did.  And as the wise men followed the star to their destination,  the Holy Spirit here, tonight, invites you to surrender your all to Jesus and allow Him to lead you to yours.

Christmas......I don't know whether to laugh or cry! There's a song by Mandisa and Matthew West called “Christmas Makes Me Cry,”  One of the verses goes like this:

I think of Mary and the virgin birth,
and I'm amazed at how much God thinks we're worth.
That He would send His only Son to die
and sometimes Christmas makes me cry.

Tears of thankfulness, tears of hope,
I cry tears of joy at Christmas cause I know
There is peace on earth for every heart to find
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry.

May the peace of Christ come to your heart tonight and may He bring tears of joy from this day forth and evermore.