"Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard."
"Do not be afraid, Mary: you have found favour with God."
"Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife."
"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people."
When we think about Christmas, we don't normally think about fear. The idyllic picture of Christmas includes peace on earth and frosted window panes, snow-laden pine trees and brown paper packages tied up with string. But the biblical narrative tells a different story. There were so many unexpected encounters, twists, turns and strange events that our main characters are always met with the encouragement to not be afraid before anything else unfolds. So, it seems that fear is a big part of the Christmas story!
Fear is also a part of our stories. We grapple with it and manage it throughout our lives -everything from nervousness to phobias. Sometimes it keeps us safe, sometimes it keeps us too safe. It makes sense that calming fear is woven so well into Christ coming to earth. 1 John 4:18 tells us that there is no fear in love and we know that Christ is the epitome of love.
For the third Sunday of Advent, we're going to talk about fear. A different twist on what we think of as a peaceful story, but one that connects our ordinary lives to what happened on the first Christmas.
Looking forward to seeing you then,