Why is Christmas scary?
Halloween is supposed to be the scary holiday. But the Christmas stories in the New Testament mention fear repeatedly. In the gospel of Luke, when the angel Gabriel approaches the priest Zechariah who will be the father of John the Baptizer, the angel kicks off with Fear not. Then when the angel Gabriel visits Mary who will be the mother of Jesus, and again he leads off with Fear not. When the angels visit the shepherds abiding in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night, the angels declare, Fear not.
In the gospel of Matthew, an angel tells Joseph, Fear not, it is ok to marry Mary even if she is with child.
It seems like there is a “Fear not” at every turn. The implication is that the people may react in fear. Is it because they were living in perilous times? Is it because visitation by the Divine is always fear/awe inducing? Is it because the God of their understanding was associated with punishment as well as blessing? Is it because they might be asked to do something risky and unpopular? That’s often the case with God’s call. Look at Jesus. We aren’t told why the people might be afraid.
As we approach Christmas, this is a time to consider how we might be afraid. What might we fear about the incarnation of Divine Love coming into the world to bring joy, peace, and hope? What might be scary about that for us? Maybe our fears are preventing us from experiencing the full bliss and blessing of Christmas. Maybe like Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, we need to be told, Fear not!
Prayer: In these quiet moments we give voice to our fears. In this advent season, may we let Divine Love drive out our fears. May we fulfill our part in the drama of redeeming love with no hesitations or reservations. May we not let our fears hold us back. Amen.