Christmas Fear?

OK, so here are some of my worst Christmas movies every. It is a scary list. For my tastes the list must include “A Christmas Story 2,” “Silent Night, Deadly Night,” and “Home Alone 3.” A few years ago there was a very poorly done horror flick, Black Christmas (2006-Rotten Tomato gave it a 14%–you cannot get much lower). “This Christmas, get ready for the ultimate “slay” ride.” But at the very of my list is the 1964 Sci Fi dud, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.” C’mon people, what are we missing here.

Why in the world would anyone want to go to a horror movie during this season? C’mon, isn’t Christmas about joy and peace to man and womankind?

Having said that, strange as it may seem, fear is perhaps the most common theme within the Biblical narrative. Take another look. Everybody in the story is afraid of something or someone. Zechariah was afraid. Even though he was in the temple (where God would certainly be expected to show-up)—he was even in the Holy of Holies—praying that God would come and bless Israel. His very name means “God Remembers”. But when God does ‘remember’ and speak, the resident fear in Zechariah’s heart bubbles over.

The Shepherds’ knees were knocking. Certainly, it would have been a very scary sight—a bunch of alien creatures singing.

The Wisemen feared Herod. Herod, a paranoid megalomaniac feared the child-king. Joseph? He was certainly afraid of losing his reputation by associating with his scandal-clad pregnant fiancée. Let’s face it, overnight, he lost his righteous reputation and probably most of his business. The Innkeeper feared the disruption to his business boom—or perhaps his own personal comfort that evening. By the way, do we need to say that there really was room in the Inn? A righteous man—a godly man would have certainly given Mary his room.

The 1st ct. religious leaders? What might they have feared? This so-called Messiah would bring a severe disruption to their careful constructed religious liturgy and power structures.

I guess, in a nutshell, what scared everybody on that day—down deep in their heart of hearts, was not the sudden shock of angels flying around in concert. I would suggest that the scariest thing—far more frightening than anything from the Black Xmas movie—is this— they were afraid that God would actually come—on their watch. The very thing that many of them deeply desired was also their greatest fear.

Why would anyone fear God coming? Easy. God is very disruptive. His coming is always very messy. Priests become mute. Disenfranchised marginalized shepherds become functioning High Priests and are required to do things that they would be certainly fail at. We know the story. They were told to go throughout the region telling everybody that the messiah was born. Who would believe a shepherd? There were more doors slammed in shepherd’s faces that night than ever before in recorded history. Can you imagine being the poor slob who pulled the short straw to go to the High Priest’s villa to tell him? Do you think that was a good time?

Virgins become pregnant. Righteous carpenter’s lives are wrecked by unfortunate scandalous rumors. International ambassadors become traitors—their world centers shifted. Kings lose their throne. Innkeeper’s hearts are exposed. The religious become upset and in disarray.

This is frightening stuff. Aren’t we really like them? In this Christmas season, let’s finally come clean. Denial is not our friend. I would suggest that we Jesus-followers have a tragic strange embarrassing ambivalence in our souls. On the one hand, we really do desire God to come in power in our lives—today—right now. But on the other hand—in that place that we don’t like to reside, we are afraid that God just might come and mess up our comfortable lives—ask us to do things—to be someone—to say something—to sacrifice too much—all as a part of His ongoing Christmas story for mankind.

I think that it is healthy to finally admit it. Don’t you? Merry Christmas!