In the words of Solomon, during this season, I commend joy. I don't care if the 25th December is not exactly the date of Jesus' birth, if Christmas has been hi-jacked by commercialism or if Santa is a myth. The truth is that we have a solid month in which people are more willing than normal to hear of the extraordinary miracle of the incarnation, and to announce this good news of great joy. The question is how to be incarnational at Christmas? How do we engage our culture thoughtfully and fruitfully as Jesus would have, at this time? Let's enjoy a season of family, rest and gift giving, but lets make the most of this season for the sake of the Gospel. Our Christmas services have so far been a wonderful part of that.
Against this backdrop of joy, I want also, to commend sober-mindedness. Peter concludes his first epistle with these instructions. Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God that he might lift you up in due time, casting all your cares upon Him because He cares for you. Be sober minded and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood around the world.1 Peter 5: 6-9
This past week I had a dream that reminded me of this passage, and which has galvanized us as elders to pray earnestly for the people of Southlands to be humble, sober-minded and alert. It is strange in some ways, because really, we have had a great year of growth, life and unity as a church. I ma not conscious of any one situation that is serious enough to make a corporate call for watchfulness. However, I have felt a warning for us all to be aware that we have an enemy who would love to rob from us what God has done among us, this past year.
Sober mindedness is actually very appropriate at a time of celebration. It is often in celebration after a season of progress, that we can lose a sense of sobriety. After the flood was over and he had begun to be fruitful as God had promised, Noah drank of the fruit of his vineyard, got drunk, exposed himself to his sons, and brought judgment on his family. It's all too common at this time to let our guard down, over-indulge either in food, alcohol or spending, and over-expose ourselves. The devil does not rest because we are resting. He still prowls around looking for someone to devour. So in our resting and rejoicing lets be self-controlled. Let's guard unity in our marriages and families, in our friendships and community. Lets maintain intimacy with Jesus, who has disarmed every dark power at the cross, triumphing over the devil by his blood.
Finally, I want to commend this message, Maintaining Unity by Nick Saltas as a help to us in this regard. I believe it is a key message for both Brea and Fullerton communities, for maintaining unity, sobriety, and positioning us for a year of great Gospel fruit together in 2014.