‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit’. Matt 1:20
It’s time to prepare for Christmas. To think about our times with friends and family, get the presents, dust off the decorations and put the tree up.
Anyone who knows me will be aware of my love for this season and all it represents. The coming of Jesus into the world to save the world and open up the way to live life as forgiven, loved people. God’s involvement in his creation never ceases to amaze me.
As I’ve re-read the Christmas stories in the bible this year I’ve become aware that that first Christmas was not simply a time of celebration and joy.
There are three occasions where angels said to people ‘Do not be afraid’. Joseph, when he was trying to work out what had happened to his bride to be, Mary when she was told she was going to give birth to a child and the shepherds when they encountered an angel from God. Fear is the theme that runs through these narratives not celebration at this point.
This made me realise that there are many people today who live in fear. Fear of war, fear of oppression, fear of losing their job, fear of not being accepted, fear of losing those who are precious to them. Somebody once said ‘A head full of fears has no space for dreams’.
Fear has power to control us, it can dictate the conversations we have and the way we relate to people. Fear can paralyse and hold us back. Fear can direct us to actions we regret, yet the angels call to those in the Christmas narratives is ‘Do not fear’.
What a simple sentence to utter but what a difficult action to achieve. The cry of the angels was not ultimately that these fearful, uncertain people should pull themselves together but it was a reassurance that God was in control. Something was about to happen that had been spoken of hundreds of years earlier, something that prophets of long ago had spoken and something that God had foretold. Despite the apparent hopelessness of Mary and Joseph’s situation God was in control.
I feel the message of Christmas this year will be one of fear overcome. A realisation that God is in control, that God knows what is best and that he is faithful and just.
I pray that if you are living in fear, you may know the peace and presence of God in your life this Christmas.
God is faithful.