I was so focused on the messengers (aka angels) in my last post, I paid scant attention to their messages. I know the message in each case was just as surprising as the appearance of the messenger and that there was a subversive tone to the text. But I can’t recall the details.
This is what I remember:
- Zechariah was told Elizabeth (his wife) would bear son despite their old age, they would name him John, and he would “prepare the way” of the Lord.
- Mary was told she would bear a child despite her youth and ‘not quite married’ status. Was she told they would name him Jesus?
- The shepherds heard “for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a child who is Christ the Lord.”
Between the Charlie Brown Christmas television special, theological education, dozens of Christmas pageants and who knows how many Christmas Eve services, I should remember more. But not at the moment.
(Pause here to get a Bible and reread the passages from Luke 1 and 2.)
Every time an angel appears we hear “don’t be afraid.” Of course I knew that; I just didn’t think of it a few minutes ago!
“Fear not” is an oft-repeated phrase throughout scripture. Yet we fear. We are afraid for all kinds of reasons – real and imagined, large and small, for ourselves and for others.
Maybe we don’t admit it. At least I don’t often admit the fear. But I will worry. My husband could testify that I am quite good at imaging the worst. Being anxious is second nature to me. A daily dose of an anti-anxiety prescription helps. Remembering the birds and the lilies helps (“so do not worry about tomorrow” – Matthew 6:34). Having people who love and encourage me helps. A walk outdoors helps. Reading the Psalms helps (Psalm 91 is my favorite). Piecing a quilt helps. Humming a song helps.
Holy One, sender of messengers and messages, quell today’s fears and tomorrow’s worries that we might know the hope, joy, love and peace of your presence among us. Amen.