Even atheists will worship with us at Christmas. What’s with that? Emotion – the emotions of hope, joy, awe and peace that fill church sanctuaries at Christmas.
British historian Alec Ryrie, in his new book, “Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt,” argues that emotion is behind most people’s rejection of faith – not intellectual argument. “Unbelievers” are angry and anxious about church experiences, like an abusive priest or an arrogant pastor. They may develop intellectual arguments for disbelief, but what fuels those arguments are deep emotions, based on real, disillusioning experiences.
This Sunday we’ll explore three biblical mountains, each with its own emotional world – Mt. Sinai, Mt. Zion, and finally the hills of Bethlehem. Many today have rejected the terrifying and tyrannical god of Mt. Sinai. But have they experienced the god of Bethlehem, manifested in baby Jesus? This is God, so deeply involved in our lives, that he comes and lives beside us. He even suffers because he loves us.
That’s our focus this Sunday as we reflect on that favorite Christmas song, “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”