Rejoice and Fear Not

Text: Zephaniah 3:14-18

As you all know, this past week America was hit with the tragedy that happened in Connecticut.  Two dozen or so people were gunned down.  How did this tragedy impact you?  I am sure that it caused many of you to have feelings of sorrow, fear, and anger.  The media was also buzzing with this tragedy.  Experts were on trying to place blame, as well as answer the question why.  Events like the Connecticut Massacre can cause us to become numb, fearful, worried and so forth.

What does one say in response to this atrocity?  It would seem odd for me as a pastor to command you to rejoice and fear not, especially when this news has a tendency to bring sorrow and paralyzing fear.  However, the text that we just read does just this.  The text from Zephaniah chapter 3 follows two chapters that talk about dark destruction.  However, when we come to the verses that we read today there are commands to celebrate.  Furthermore, the text calls us not to fear, do not let your hands hang limp. 

It seems odd that Zephaniah would command them to fear not and to rejoice.  Frankly, it is somewhat cruel to force emotions on to someone that is in grief or struggling.  Are you sad and fearful? Well don’t be, rejoice and have no fear! L

In the 1980’s there was a song titled, “Don’t worry be happy?”  And what I found so interesting is that the artist never gives us a reason not to worry and he does not give us a reason to be happy.  Listen,   

Ain't got no place to lay your head 

Somebody came and took your bed 
Don't worry, be happy 
The land lord say your rent is late 
He may have to litigate 
Don't worry, be happy 
Ain't got no cash, ain't got no style 
Ain't got not girl to make you smile 
But don't worry be happy 

However, this is not the case with Zephaniah.  He commands them to rejoice and fear not, but he gives them a reason.  He says that they are to rejoice and fear not because judgment has been taken away.  He says that the Lord has cleared away their enemies.  He says that the Lord the Lord God will be in their midst and that a mighty one will save them. 

My friends, today ‘do not fear.’  Today, ‘rejoice and celebrate.’  This text calls you in the midst of tragedy to not fear and to rejoice.  The reason being, God has taken away His judgment of your sins.  God has cleared away your enemies.  Fear not, for the Lord has come into our world to save you.  Let your hand not grow weak, for salvation has come to you.  We do not dismiss, nor negate the tradgedy that happened this past week, but in the midst of our sorrow and tears we cling to this Christmas story, a story that speaks of Christ coming into the midst of our pain, sorrow, fear and guilt.  While we are powerless to change nor deals with the wounds and sins of life, Christ actually does something.  Christ takes away God’s judgment of our sin.  Christ clears away your enemies of sin, death and the devil.  Christ comes to save not only you and me but to redeem this fallen world.  The very act Christmas is one of God coming to earth, coming for you, and that my friends, is something that brings forth rejoicing.  Christ coming removes anxiety and gives us peace. 

May God’s Christmas gift of Jesus turn our hearts and minds so that we can find peace through the cleansing of Jesus' blood.  May this salvation make you an instrument of peace in a world of conflict, a witness to the power of faith in a world lost in unbelief, and a bearer of the joy that overcomes the sorrow of a fallen world.   Amid the pain of this past week you can have assurance because of God’s grace that you are not altogether lost.  May God give you and me the grace to seek Him, trust Him, and confess Him; in Jesus' name.  Amen.