My son listened this year as I told the Christmas story to a gathering of prechoolers and he reviewed it for me over the next few days.
He told me about Mary and about Joseph and about the angels. He told me how Jesus was God but a baby and how Christmas was Jesus’ birthday.
Then, he told me how Jesus ate a lot of food, got bigger and didn’t stay a baby anymore.
But he also says this: “The angels kept saying, “Don’t be afraid!”
They kept saying that. Over and over. Those angels had this resounding message of joy and they prefaced it with the command to “fear not.”
As we finish one year, as we prepare for the next, as we look to the unknown and the new and the yet-to-come, how do we let this message change us and change our perspective?
How do we renew hope? How do we quiet fears ?
after all, THE GOSPEL MESSAGE IS ALL ABOUT HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS, LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS, JOY IN SORROW AND PEACE IN TURMOIL.
It’s for those hopeless enough to feel like one more day alive is too much to bear.
It’s for those of us watching the clock at night, too worried about bills and our kids, our marriages, conflicts with family, or problems at work to sleep in peace.
It’s even for a worrier like me, anxious over the little things like birthday parties and church programs and a fresh calendar awaiting the activities of a new year.
It’s for the daily troubles that we turn into crises and for the life-and-death struggles we sometimes face.
IT’S THE REMINDER THAT GOD CAME HERE TO BE WITH US SO WE WOULDN’T BE ALONE, AND HE WILL NOT LEAVE OUR SIDE.
That’s the hope we have. Not us alone in a crazy, mixed-up, broken world. Not us alone facing bills and divorce, depression or stress.
Not us alone against any road-bumps ahead in the days to come.
Emmanuel. God with us.
As it says in Isaiah:
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
That’s the loudest message from the Christmas story. The one grand announcement over and over: “Do not be afraid.” That’s what my son reminds me.
That wasn’t just God’s plan for our past. It’s been His passion from the beginning of Creation—to be with us. It was His driving desire all those years of patiently planning for our salvation through Christ’s coming, His death, His resurrection.
It’s the great passion of God’s heart even now. In the book of Revelation, we’re told that when the battle is over and Christ establishes His forever kingdom, God will say:
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
We close another Christmas season. We stop playing the carols. We pack up the decorations.
We make resolutions and plans for the new year.
But this is what we carry with us; this is the hope we have every single day:
HE CHOSE TO BE WITH US SO WE COULD CHOOSE TO BE WITH HIM.
So we do not need to be afraid of facing anything in this life alone.
God is with us.
Originally published December 28, 2015