DON’T BE AFRAID
We shouldn’t be afraid of Christmas. Or should we? Most of the Christmas letters we receive describe this time of year as a moment of joy set apart from our complicated lives. In reality, Christmas can be one of the most complicated times of year. Take gift giving. What (besides money) can I give my teenage nephew who I barely know? What can I give my daughter’s fiance´? What about my father who is determinedly down-sizing? Or take the day itself. Do I spend it with my adult children who don’t have any vacation days left or do I spend it with my parents who can no longer travel? Or what about Christmas dinner? How can I prepare a dinner that satisfies my husband’s desire for a traditional dinner, my son’s diabetic diet and his girlfriend’s militant vegetarianism?
But the complications of Christmas pale in comparison to the complications of our lives. How does my friend balance a full-time job and the need to care for her mother who is rapidly slipping into dementia? How does my cousin cope with a schizophrenic son who has been missing for 3 weeks? How do I handle mothering my child one week and sending her to her dad’s the next week?
MARY AND JOSEPH HAD REASON TO BE AFRAID
An unmarried teenager in a society that stoned women caught in adultery, Mary’s life certainly got complicated when God chose her to be the mother of Jesus. A kind man who didn’t want to see his fiance´e, unfaithful or not, killed, Joseph’s life got complicated by the task God gave Mary. Listen to what the Messenger of the Lord said to them, “Mary, don’t be afraid.” (Luke 1:30) “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid” (Matt 1:20).
Notice the Messenger didn’t say, “Don’t be afraid, everything’s going to be okay” to either of them. Instead the Messenger promised more complications. [To Mary] “Listen, you are going to become pregnant. You will have a son, and you must name Him “Savior,” or Jesus. [To Joseph] “Mary conceived the baby she now carries through the miraculous wonderworking of the Holy Spirit. She will have a son, and you will name Him Jesus, which means ‘the Lord saves,’ because this Jesus is the person who will save all of His people from sin.” Raise a child the Lord intends to be the Savior of all people?
DON’T BE AFRAID OF COMPLICATIONS
But the point isn’t that life is complicated. We all know that. The point is “Don’t be afraid.” Throughout scripture when a Messenger of the Lord appears with an announcement, the Messenger starts with the words, “Don’t be afraid.” Even the Messenger who announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds said, “Don’t be afraid.” (Matt 28:10)
And Jesus used those same words when he spoke to the women hurrying from the empty tomb. He said, “Don’t be afraid.” That’s what Christmas is all about. We don’t have to be afraid when we’re faced with complications to our lives, even seemingly insurmountable complications. Jesus came into the world to tell us, “Don’t be afraid.”