do not be afraid

And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you:  you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
(Luke 2:10-12) 

They were minding their own business when it happened.  They were doing what shepherds do.  They were abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night — making sure no wild animal would invade the flock and do them a harm.  Those shepherds were hardly expecting the veil between the worlds to be torn back that night so a heavenly host could peer down from heaven, bringing them good news of great joy for all people.

The Bible is full of stories of people being caught unawares.  There they are, minding their own business, when all of a sudden God shows up and demands something from them.  Of course the demand is usually preceded by the words, “Do not be afraid.”

Yeah, right.

God does not want us to be afraid.  But the truth is we are a lot of the time.  We’re afraid of the future and its unknowns.  We’re afraid of things we don’t understand and can’t control.  We’re afraid of terrorism and war and the ground shifting beneath our feet.

“Do not be afraid,” God tells us over and over again – usually sung by angels.  And the reason we are not supposed to be afraid?  Because God is with us.  Because God has always been with us.  Because God will never not be with us — and because this is true we know that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God.

Saving God, calm our worries, still our fears, send your angels of mercy to soothe us when we are afraid.  Help us to know, trust, and believe, that if you brought us to it,
you will see us through it.  Amen.

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