Do Not Be Afraid
David Brock of Redmond, OR, USA
How blessed are they! For they published peace; they published good tidings of good; and they declared to the people that the Lord reigns. -Mosiah 11:207
The shepherds on the night shift that first Christmas were not the easily frightened type. Predators on two legs and four lurked in the shadows. Like most citizens of Palestine, the herders lived in occupied territory, burdened with things “heavy or ill-fitting.” Violence, or the threat of it, kept them in line or stirred them to whispered plans for revolt. The child of Galilee they hastened to see after the fear-filled angelic encounter, then the assuring announcement of the great and joyful event, did not change any of those rough, outer realities.
But, something shifted.
On this Christmas, so many in the world live similarly to those shepherds. They live at the far edges of power and often are victims of it. They are closer to the sometimes-brutal and often-beautiful realities of nature. They do not frighten easily because they’ve lived the extremes of joy and sorrow. Most of that will not change in their lifetimes. No matter our life circumstances, much in the larger world around us will not change on our way to the manger.
But something will shift as we walk. Those willing to go to the manger at the beginning of this new Christian year, then on through the events of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, will experience that transformative shift. If we will walk with Jesus and work with Jesus-watch how Jesus does it this year-we will learn “the unforced rhythms of grace.” Jesus won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on us but will keep company with us. We will learn to live freely and lightly.
We must be wise in our speech and our actions as we declare “Don’t be afraid” to others. We first must learn from the gentle sister sometimes crippled by uncontrollable panic attacks. We must stand in silence with the one who has just lost a loved one and willingly face our own fear of death. We must listen to the residents of the Ebola-ravaged neighborhoods in Monrovia, Liberia, and the refugees from Syria who awaken in the night to memories of graphic violence.
Through them we may hear angels telling us not to fear. Through them we may meet the Prince of Peace born in Bethlehem.
Community of Christ, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Don’t be afraid. Tell the world in word or in silent pastoral presence, “Don’t be afraid!”
Announce one more time the great and joyful event-to each other, to your neighbors, to all creation. At the beginning of this new Christian year, move forward in the light of your divinely instilled call and vision.
God with us.
Take time each day in this season to notice what feels most alive in you. Spend some time holding the feeling, and ask what it may be trying to tell you about the Spirit at work in your life. Notice what it may be forming in you. Pay attention to where it may lead. How can what is most life-giving reveal the presence and invitation of God in and around us.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.