CHRISTMAS Do Not Be Afraid
Luke 2:10. “The angel said to [the shepherds], ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.’”
John 1:14. “And the Word became flesh and lived among us….”
This year’s reflections draw from the Revised Common Lectionary for liturgical Year C. Advent I presents the grown-up Jesus toward the end of his ministry. Advent II and III give us the adult John the Baptist. Advent IV flashes back to the meeting of Elizabeth and Mary when their sons are still in utero. Then on Christmas Eve (this year, by quirk of the calendar, only a day after Advent IV), we arrive at the stable in Bethlehem in time for the shepherds, the angels, and the birth. In other words, like the babe in Elizabeth’s womb, the readings take some leaps.
Holy time is like that. The kingdom of God is coming. The kingdom of God is here. Holy time is moveable and collapsible and oddly simultaneous, making past and present and future all one—all contained in God, and all true. “Do not be afraid,” the angel says, “for I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.” The angel is talking to the shepherds. At the same time, the angel is talking to you and me.
The theme of inclusion, sounded back in Advent II, shows up again here. The angel’s words are not just for people of a particular time, place, or occupation. Neither are they only for those who look, live, or believe a certain way. Rather the words are for ALL people. Do not be afraid. We would do well to ponder, to savor, and to share these words with one another—especially when fear threatens to divide us, encourages us to withhold rather than to share, or tempts us to make enemies of those who seem “other” than us.
The prologue to the Gospel of John proclaims that “the Word became flesh and lived among us … full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). May that Word find its place in your heart, banish your fears, and fill you with grace and truth. Merry Christmas!