“There were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. 'Don’t be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!'” (Luke 2:8-11).
This was Mary’s first baby. Her others: Jude, James, Joses, Simon and their unnamed sisters, weren’t bedded down in feeding troughs. It’s also safe to assume angels weren’t delivering messages about their births. But with Jesus’ approach and arrival, the recurring message to all involved in the drama was this: “Don’t be afraid!”
Of course, the message was first intended to calm the senses of those who were terrified at the encounter of one of God’s heavenly soldiers, but “Don’t be afraid!” also addresses mankind’s natural response to the unknown, unwanted, unplanned, disorienting events of life we all face, “from the manger to the grave.” Fear moves us in the wrong direction. Fear convinces us to stay put, rather than to move forward. Fear robs us of our sleep and ignites panic where there should be peace. Fear keeps us from trusting God.
But Mary’s baby, God’s Son, came to replace fear with hope, love and perfect peace.
This Christmas, may your heart be drained of fear and filled with God’s love, His overflowing hope and His peace that surpasses understanding. How is that possible? Because, as the angel said, “I bring Good News. The Savior, the Messiah, the Lord has been born today.”
And so, I wish you, not a “Scary Christmas,” but a very Merry Christmas.