Many kick off the holiday season by polishing off the turkey and heading to the mall.
Some are still chewing as they pull into the Wal-Mart parking lot, Bing Crosby on the radio.
Retailers have already been nudging Christmas into our view for weeks.
But from the minute we leave the dinner table, the flood gates have officially opened.
There is no stopping it now.
Until the sun sets on the 25th, it will be all lights, candy, and credit card fueled Christmas cheer.
In the church, we get, eh, something a little different to start things off.
And this Sunday, it is really, really different.
...and on the earth distress among nations...
People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming up the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken...
Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with over consumption and drunkenness and the worries of this life...
Not exactly Christmas card material.
And yet, it is exactly what Christians need to hear as we prepare for the coming of Christ into our lives.
Just like in the days of Luke's gospel, the world is once again being consumed by fear. The names and the places have changed, but the story is always the same.
Fear causes the people to become confused, to lose their way, to abandon their values, to forget the true source of their hope. The worries of the world send the people seeking for their solution in all the wrong places-the accumulation of things and the many and varied forms of self-medication. Fear and foreboding causes even the faithful to faint and fall away from the purpose to which they have been called by their God. Some use their fear as justification to lash out with violence.
Perhaps you've noticed some of these things taking place.
Over the din Jesus calls to us:
Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
In the face of fear, Christian, you are to respond with faith.
You are to act out of trust.
You are to live in hope.
You are called to live now in God's kingdom, in anticipation of that day when it comes into its fullness.
And Christian, don't be confused by all the noise you are hearing all around you. Turn again to the Word, and Jesus in the gospel of Luke will show you exactly what life in his kingdom looks like.