Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Saturday, December 25, Morning
By Dena Wise
Don’t Be Afraid
Read Luke 2:8-12 (God’s Word Translation)
“Shepherds were in the fields near Bethlehem. They were taking turns watching their flock during the night. An angel from the Lord suddenly appeared to them. The glory of the Lord filled the area with light, and they were terrified. The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid! I have good news for you, a message that will fill everyone with joy. Today your Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in David’s city. This is how you will recognize him: You will find an infant wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger…”
Jesus was born to a people who, over the years that the Old Testament spans, had associated Godly leadership with power rather than humility, authority rather than service, commanding presence rather than gentle guidance. They had lived under the rule of the often violent and idolatrous kings of Israel and Judah, under Nebuchchadnezzar of Babylon during the exile, and had been subject to the whims of the Persian, Greek, and Roman leaders whose rule often upended their lives. Even their God, they knew as stern, unapproachable, and often terrifying. They likely expected a deliverer with those same characteristics, but the angels brought an entirely different message:
“Not to the important people in the capitol, but to you — regular people working and sleeping in the fields with your flocks — we bring this news. Instead of being afraid of the light of the Lord that you see around you, as you might have been in the past, be joyful! This is how you will recognize the Savior of your people: God is coming to you now, not through a mighty and powerful ruler, but rather as a newborn baby. He will not be clothed in splendor or royal robes, but instead wrapped in torn strips of cloth. You will not find him inhabiting the unapproachable inner sanctions of a temple or even a palace. You will find him in an animal’s stall lying in the feed trough. Tonight you can visit him in person without fear, and see for yourselves”.
Thank you, Lord, that the joyful news of peace that came to the shepherds 2000 years ago is with us to this day. We are ashamed that we often still struggle to recognize our salvation in humility and love, rather than in control and fear. May the humble essence of the infant in the manger permeate our individual and collective being until the glorious light that illumined the shepherds on that hill in Galilee fills the earth, and no one is afraid.