Unafraid of Radical Difference
Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
It was an ordinary night. The shepherds had been moving the flock around, looking for enough food for the sheep in their care. This time of year grass was scarce, so the shepherds resorted to cutting brush and tree branches, anything to feed the animals. Now that the sun had set the temperature had also fallen, and there was a chill in the air. Studded with stars the night sky was clear, but without a full moon it was too dark to see much. The sheep dozed on and off, and the shepherds kept one eye and ear open as they also nodded in the late hour.
Suddenly, a tall figure appeared among them. The apparition was larger than any normal human, and it glowed with an intense light. Although the sheep seemed undisturbed, the shepherds were terrified. They grabbed their staffs and clubs, preparing to defend themselves. But the figure didn’t move toward or threaten them. “Don’t be afraid,” he (she?) said. The shepherds didn’t know what was happening, but they suspected that it was something big. Something that would change the world.
The first century was much like our own: the poor and weak were at the mercy of the wealthy and powerful, and the middle class was burdened with taxes and government oversight. Violence, disease, natural disasters, and poverty made life feel hopeless for many. People struggled in the darkness, longing for justice and relief.
Jesus came to earth to bring light and hope. To ensure justice and to offer mercy. To vanquish evil and to bring all of creation under his authority. To break the chains of sin and death for all who believe in him. To make our lives radically different from the way they were before. Although change can be terrifying, the status quo can be equally uncertain and scary. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus says. It’s good news!
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship.