Do-Not-Be-Afraid New Year
Do not be afraid.
When Gabriel appears to Mary with shocking, life changing news of her wondrous, impossible pregnancy, the angel looks into Mary’s troubled face and says: Do not be afraid.
When Joseph is devastated upon finding out that Mary will give birth to a child he knows is not his, he decides to choose divorce over stoning, an angel counsels him: Do not be afraid.
When the shepherds are out in the cold, night fields --- shepherds who are not even considered worthy of being counted in the empire’s census, when these no-count shepherds are terrified upon seeing the sky break open in otherworldly song, the angel speaks to them: Do not be afraid.
Do not be afraid rings the Christmas proclamation. Whatever can this mean when there are so many reasons to be afraid?
What if the cancer returns?
What if the diagnosis means…….?
What if my loved one loses sobriety? ---- or never embraces it?
What if our congregation cannot meet its financial needs? --- loses heart?
What if the loss (of loved one, our plans, our way for doing things) overwhelms?
What if we lack the will to get global warming under control?
What if dark division rips the community we share?
We all have the “what ifs” that stir up anxiety and fear.
Still, let’s imagine some different “what ifs?” What if the message of the angels and shepherds and stars of Christmas offer real hope in the face of real fears? What if Jesus is “God-with-us” and “God-for-us” in all times and places? What if the presence of a vulnerable baby is the very love that enters our cold world and harsh hearts, causing us to celebrate generosity? What if the manger birth moves us to believe that in weakness we will find strength? What if we discover how the light shines, even in the valley of the shadow? And, what if we find that it is love that cradles us, even if it feels as prickly as manger straw?
And, what if, we live in the hope and the joy of a “Do-not-be-afraid” new year?
+ Pastor Steve
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Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Rocky Mountain Synod
ZION EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
1070 Foothill Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84108