Do not be afraid...
I always find it interesting that every time we find an angel appearing in scripture the first words out of their mouth are "Do not be afraid."
Now I've never had an angel appear to me with any sort of big news, but I can admit I might be terrified if it did happen.
I've been thinking about that line for a few weeks as we prepared for the children's Christmas program at church, as this line was read each time, I half chuckled and half pondered. Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph, do not be afraid. You all are experiencing something unusual, scary, and now here I am before you, bringing you good news in a way that is unexpected, but do not be afraid.
How is it we can not be afraid, even if we do not have angels appearing to us, the world is a scary place and there are many times when I am afraid.
Coming home late at night with no lights on, I am afraid. When the phone rings late at night and it's my dad calling, I am afraid. When I think about the future, where will I be in 5, 10, years? I am afraid. So how is it these angels can say, "Do not be afraid." How is it that we can live in joy and not in fear?
Emmanuel, God with us.
Does this mean bad things will not happen? NO...
N. Gordon Cosby said "Anybody who tells you that if you get into the boat with Jesus everything is going to work out well forever after, just doesn't understand the faith. There is always turbulence. Inner questions. Wondering."
Emmanuel, God with us, is peace. Emmanuel, God with us, means we are called to fight injustice and oppression. Emmanuel means that we are not alone in the battles of the world, but that we walk with a power greater than ourselves. Emmanuel means we do not have to hope and long for some day that we have no idea when it will happen to come and make the world a better place, because Emmanuel means that we work for peace, love, equality, justice, and a better day today and tomorrow. Emmanuel, God with us, here...now...today...this very minute and that to me says "Do not be afraid" for God is a God not of tomorrow but of today. God is with me, God is with us, God is in the world through us and with us.
Let us live in this world and be not afraid.
Then there appeared to him an angel
of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.
When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him.
But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your
prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and
you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many
will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of
the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his
birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many
of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit
and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of
parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the
righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
Zechariah said to the angel, "How will I know that this is so? For I
am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years." The angel
replied, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have
been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But
now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in
their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these
things occur." -Luke 1:12-18
Let us stand in the presence of Emmanuel and proclaim good news to a broken and dark world, because the good news of Christ is light and darkness does not overcome it!
Peace be within you,