Big Idea: In order to receive God’s gift of Christmas, we have to be willing to give up lesser things. There is great freedom from laying down these lesser things, and we can receive from God his greatest gifts.
I. The coming of Christ did produce fear.
A. The Glory of God filled them with great fear.
B. Losing control is scary.
II. If we let God disturb our darkness we can experience joy.
A. Letting go of darkness to have the light.
B. They let go of fear to have joy.
C. We may have to lay down business as usual for a sense of purpose.
III. Application: how are we coming to Christmas?
A. We need to leave darkness to have his light.
B. Make room in your heart for joy. God has good news of great joy for you.
C. Let Christ be the lifter of your head.
D. Let God ruin your plans for business as usual.
1) Why should God’s message of joy bring so much fear into the world? Why is good news about joy scary?
2) What happens in your heart when you realize you are not in control? Is your reaction always the same? Is that sometimes a good thing but at other times really scary?
3) Is seeing the world in terms of light and darkness too simplistic a narrative structure? Is that an old-fashioned notion that doesn’t fit our modern complex world?
Do you see darkness in our world? Where do you see it?
4) Why are there so many people invested in perpetuating problems in darkness? (John 3:19-21) What does Jesus’ teaching in John 3 say about darkness and light and how they will interact?
5) What are you hanging on to that might keep you from receiving what God has?
6) How joyful are you right now? Is joy the same thing as being happy? How has the gospel – the good news – made your life more joyful?
7) Once the shepherds heard the news and had investigated, they had to share it with others. Who are you sharing your joy with? Who should you contact to share some joy with this week?