DO NOT BE AFRAID
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11)
“‘Do not be afraid,’ said the angel. I fear death, the judgment of God, the world, hunger, and the like. The angel announces a Savior who will free us from fear.” From a Christmas Sermon of Martin Luther
Martin Luther knew fear. After his excommunication and refusal to recant the Emperor put him under the ban of death. The medieval world in which Luther lived was ridden with disease, the plague was feared by rich and poor alike. The principalities of Germany were under attack by the Turks. Martin Luther lived at a time in which he could have easily given into fear. Yet, Luther had another vision. He was captured by the gracious love of God. His faith was in the God made flesh, the Christ Child that is born for us.
The shepherds in Luke’s story also knew fear. They were the lowest of the low on society’s pecking order. They lived at a time when their own nation was under the military dictatorship of Rome. Yet, God’s special messengers, the angels, came with a word of hope to these shepherds, “Do Not Be Afraid….I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Christ, the Lord”
You and I know fear. You or a loved one is ill. You face the end of a relationship. We live in a world torn apart by violence and terror. We know all too well that people wander our nation’s streets hungry and homeless. We’ve watched reports of God’s children around the globe who are refuges, forced to leave their homes because of political oppression. How will we respond during times such as these?
Fear is our vulnerability. Instead, we must learn the spiritual discipline and habit of the scriptural command, BE NOT AFRAID. The gift of Christmas does not come to a perfect “Christmas Card” world. God’s gift of the Christ Child is laid down in a manger in this very broken world. That is our hope, that is our promise, that is our strength. Fear will easily overtake us if do not keep our focus on God’s Word made Flesh, the Christ Child. God’s great gift to us that can finally address our deepest fears. We have God’s Word, Jesus Christ, our Savior the only one who will free us from fear.
Dear Sisters and Brother in Christ, DO NOT FEAR. At times such as these I find great solace in the following prayer: O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope. Where anxiety is infectious and widening, grant peace and reassurance. Where impossibilities close every door and window, grant imagination and resistance. Where distrust twists our thinking, grant healing and illumination. Where spirits are daunted and weakened, grant soaring wings and strengthened dreams. All these things we ask in the name of Jesus, our Savior and Lord. Amen. (ELW p.76)
Peace in Christ,
Pastor David Jorstad