Behold! To see, observe or witness something remarkable or impressive.

When was the last time you had a Behold! moment?

Christmas is filled with Behold! moments. When the angel appeared to Zacharias announcing Elizabeth, his barren and aged wife, would become pregnant, Behold! When the angel appeared to Mary announcing she would bear a son, Behold!

When the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream announcing he should take Mary as his wife, Behold! When the angel appeared to shepherds tending their flocks near Bethlehem announcing the birth of a Savior, Behold!

Behold! moments are those times in our lives when God gets our attention to announce or reveal His plans and purposes. They are life-changing moments that can bring clarity, change the direction of our lives, or even touch the deepest dreams and fears of our being. Thus, Behold! moments are often partnered with "Don't be afraid" moments.

"Don't be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God."

"Don't be afraid, Joseph, to take Mary as your wife."

"Don't be afraid (shepherds), I bring you good news of great joy."

Behold! moments always require a response. God's invitation can be accepted or rejected, but it cannot be ignored. Are we open to God's new work in our lives, or will we turn our backs on His initiative? Zacharias and Elizabeth responded with hope to the news she would bear a son, for they had always longed for a child.

Mary responded in Faith, believing she would conceive, though she knew no man. Joseph responded in love, obeying God's instruction and honoring his pledge to take Mary as his wife. The shepherds responded in joy, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard.

When was the last time you had a Behold! moment? You may have been afraid, or maybe not. But one thing was for certain, God was as real and present in your life as He had ever been. And you knew that some kind of response was necessary, a response of hope, faith, love and/or joy.

Christmas is just a few days away. Are you ready? Are you anticipating a Behold! moment, asking God to speak and make Himself known to you over these next days? Is God stirring something fresh and new in your life?

Is there apprehension or fear? Do not be afraid to respond to God's invitation. He is faithful and will give you the strength and courage to move ahead.

More importantly, are you ready to receive the "good news of great joy, that a Savior is born?" In the birth of Jesus, Christmas offers the most significant Behold! moment in history. Jesus is "Immanuel," which translated means "God is with us."

Could it be true? Could the omnipotent Creator and God of the universe so humble Himself as to take on flesh and live among us, born not in the comfort and safety of a palace, but in a stable where He was placed in a manger and visited by lowly shepherds? If so, Behold!

This is the testimony of scripture. This is not "A Christmas Story," it is "The Christmas Story." Do not be afraid to hope. Do not be afraid to believe. Do not be afraid to love. Do not be afraid to rejoice. "Behold! A Savior is born, who is Christ the Lord!"

Are you in need of a Behold! moment? Worship services will take place all over our community this Sunday and on Christmas Eve. I invite you to attend one of these services, focusing your attention on the miracle of Christmas.

My prayer is that God will bless you with a Behold! moment. And when He does, may you have the courage to respond in hope, faith, love and/or joy.