I’ve been needing to hear some angels singing. Some celestial visitors reminding me to “Fear not. Be not afraid.” December brings with it moments of reflection when we are reminded of the angel’s words. I’ve been walking through this Advent time with a mixture of events and reminders. From the awe inspiring St. Olaf Christmas Festival, to a musical at church, my grandsons’ school concert with its songs of peace, a granddaughter’s somewhat hokey Christmas play and my two young grandsons’ Sunday School program. Each spoke a part of the Christmas hope, reminding me of the songs of the angels. The angels of Christmas begin their assignments by addressing the fears of those they have been sent to. Mary is told, “Do not be afraid.” Joseph in a dream is called to trust, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” Shepherds hear the words, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy.”
It is difficult to every truly take in the whole message of Christmas. God’s gift of love born in Bethlehem’s stable forever challenges our understanding of God’s desire for humankind. God came to be among us. To live with us . . . to share in our lives, yours and mine. What causes God to love us with this love? What possible reason does God have, to enter our world?
Some days, when I look in the newspaper, I wonder about that. Certainly God was acutely aware that we needed help figuring out what to do with our lives and how to live with each other. There are times when I wonder if we have made any progress through these twenty centuries since Jesus’s birth. We make a mess of life quite easily. Our mistakes are legendary. Nations go to war without seeking peaceful solutions. And the “Prince of Peace,” is passed over, as one who is out of touch with the reality of our world. And so wars come, families are broken. Domestic abuse cripples families emotionally, spiritually, as well as physically. Life goes on as always . . . or does it?
The good news is that in spite of it all, God came. Not for a short season, but for all time. God came to dwell among us. For that very reason, lives can and do change. The message of Advent . . . this waiting time, is one of getting ready. Getting ready to hear the angel’s song, “Be not afraid.” Getting ready to let God into our lives. Getting ready to make the changes God would have us make. Getting ready for the adventure of faith, God is waiting for us to say “Yes” to.