“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 2:10-11)
Do not be afraid. That is what angels say in Scripture – not only because seeing an angel is enough to strike fear into any faithful heart, but because this beautiful world can be a fearsome place. We feel fear as our work, church or family lives change, leaving us uncertain about the future. We face fear when we have heartfelt questions that no one can answer. We know fear as weather patterns change, bringing horrific fires, storms and floods. We see fear played out in the growing epidemic of opioid addiction and in mass gun violence. Fear threatens to be our constant companion. God knows it can overwhelm and cripple us.
That is why God chose to be born as one of us in the middle of fear, in the darkness of night, in the bleakness of a world gone wrong. In Christ Jesus, God chose to become our hope, our light, our joy. In Christ Jesus, God lived and died and rose again to show us that fear never has the last word, that light shines in the darkness, that love can and does and will prevail.
Now that same love lives in us who choose to follow Christ Jesus and walk in his ways. Now that same hope abides in us, even when we face fear. Now that same joy is present in us to taste and touch and share. So as you hear the message of the angels this Christmas, may you be strengthened and inspired to become the message yourself. As you go Now Into the World, proclaim to others the good news you have heard and say to all, in word and in action, “Do not be afraid.”
A Blessed, Joyful and Peaceful Christmas to you.
Your sister in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff
Bishop Suffragan and Ecclesiastical Authority
Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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