Do Not Be Afraid
The church I work at has been going through a worship series called “Angels Among Us” this advent season. This series looks at the role of the angels in the Christmas story, focusing in on their greeting phrase of “do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid to spread more hope. Do not be afraid to spread more peace. Do not be afraid to spread more joy. Do not be afraid to spread more love.
What I love most about this sermon series is that it confronts a truth that we rarely talk about – building God’s Kingdom here on earth can be one of the most terrifying things we will ever be asked to do. When we look at the main characters of the Christmas story, it makes total sense that the phrase shared between all their narratives is the angel’s message of “do not be afraid” – and it was not just because the angels looked a little bit out of place on earth. It was also because what was being asked of them was difficult and risky. All the people the angels visited – Mary, Joseph, and Zechariah – had something to lose by following the instructions of the angel. If things did not work out, if God did not provide, it could have been catastrophic for these people.
But Mary, Joseph, and Zechariah listen to the angels’ instructions to not be afraid. They courageously followed God’s call, believing in the message they had been given. And today, we know how their stories ended. Because of their willingness to lean into their faith, to not be afraid, John the Baptist and Jesus were brought into the world, bringing more hope, more peace, more joy, and more love.
While few of us will be visited by angel in our lifetime, many of us will be called by God to do things that scare us in order to build the Kingdom here on earth. As I prepare for Youth 2019 and think about how I can ‘love well,’ I also think about the angel’s message of ‘do not be afraid.’ Choosing love in the midst of a hate-filled world can be a difficult, even risky thing to do. But the Christmas story reminds us that when we lean into God’s call to love well – and also to bring hope, peace, and joy into the world – we do not have to be afraid. While we may not be able to see the end quite yet, God can. So do not be afraid, because God has shown time and time again that He is faithful to provide and bring about perfect endings, even when it may be hard for us to see.
-Erynn Dahlke, Emcee