"But the angel said to them, Be not afraid..."
Pastor Rob Fuquay
I'm living with a bit of consternation between our world and the Christmas message. The angels announced to everyone they visited-Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds-to "Fear not!" Sounds wonderful, yet I'm feeling more anxiety and fear in our world this Christmas than I can remember. The political winds are stirring a lot of fear in the air. Cries for closing our borders to Muslims is causing many Muslims in our country to live in fear. Bans on receiving refugees in our state is causing fear, making some hesitant to extend compassion to people in critical need. An article in the paper the other day told how gun sales are rising dramatically in our country. Other stories told how Christians are being executed in some very conservative Islamic countries because they refuse to convert. I walked in the march against violence downtown last Sunday along with a dozen other St. Lukers. Part of the purpose of the event was to promote the "No More Silence" campaign, and get people in neighborhoods to let police know about crimes and killings that happen so perpetrators can be taken off the streets. Why are so many reluctant to tell what they know? Fear. They fear the repercussions of gangs.
What does it mean to welcome the announcement of the angels to fear not? Part of me wants to give into the static noise of our world and say the Christmas Story is a pipe dream. It's impossible not to live in fear right now. But then...
I talked with a young boy the other day.
I am his mentor for Confirmation. He lives in the Crooked Creek community, an area of the city where St. Luke's is heavily invested in partnering with residents to be in ministry. In my conversation this boy shared how sometimes he gets afraid in his heart because of the violence around him. Occasionally he is awakened by the sound of gunshots. Then, he said, "he starts praying and Jesus talks to him and then he is "okay." I said, "Really, what do you say to Jesus and what does Jesus say back?"
He told me, "I just start praying and it is like Jesus comes and stands in my room and I just start talking to him. He asks me about school and my family and what I do at church, so I tell him. Then he just tells me things he wants me to do, and I say, "Okay."
I was really intrigued and asked, "What does he tell you to do?" He said, "He tells me to help certain people and others to be kind to." Then this clincher, "When I tell Jesus I will do what he asks me, I'm not so afraid anymore."
Maybe that's the secret. Instead of focusing on fear, focus on doing what Jesus asks. Out of the mouths of children. Is this why God sent a baby as a sign to fear not?
See you Sunday,