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Monday, December 15, 2008

Day 16: Christmas Fears


I think Christmas is a time of year when fears can emerge. Yes, our hearts are filled with hope, the kind of hope that only the Christ child can bring into our troubled world. And yet, our world is troubled and thus we also have fear. But even as we consider our fears, we must recall that each key person in the original Christmas story was also initially quite afraid when they first encountered the news of Christ's birth. Remember Zachariah? Luke’s gospel tells us that he was terrified and that fear overwhelmed him. He was forced into silence because of his fears. Consider Mary and how terrified she must have been. A virgin, being visited by an angel who tells her that she will bear the son of God? Yeah, there’s a few things embedded in that reality that would make me afraid. And then there’s Joseph, a humble, hard working carpenter who just wants to go about his life in a peaceful and uninterrupted manner. But suddenly an angel of the Lord crashes his world with the news that his betrothed shall bear a son, and while Joseph will be his earthly father, the baby has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph must’ve spent at least a few sleepless nights pondering that message. And remember the shepherds in the field? Picture them sitting quietly in the idyllic fields, enjoying the quiet isolation of the countryside when all of the sudden their world bursts with light and a great multitude of angels surrounded them. I see them hopping to their feet and running to look for a place to hide. Yes, there is much fear embedded in the events of Jesus’ birth. And yet too there is much hope. For to Zachariah the angel said, “Do not be afraid Zachariah for your prayers have been heard.” And Gabriel assured Mary by saying “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Joseph too was comforted by the message the angel brought to him saying do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife for the child she will bear has been conceived by the Holy Spirit and you will name him Jesus and he shall be our Savior. And those shepherds, whose silent night became filled with a joy-filled chorus, were told, “Fear not, for we bring you good news of a great joy for all the people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is the Messiah, the Lord.” Fear not. That's one of the core messages of Christmas. What is ii that you are fearing most about the approaching Christmas holiday? Remember the words angels to the shepherds. “Fear not, for we bring you good news of a great joy for all the people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is the Messiah, the Lord.”