26 When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, 27 to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” 29 She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. 31 Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. 33 He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”
Angelic messengers, breaking into our daily lives, have to begin their message by saying to us startled humans, “Don’t be afraid!” A divine revelation often starts out in fear, but it is always followed with a promise. Divine revelation often produces fear and wonder in us upon hearing what God has planned for us. But our fear and wonder turn to hope fulfilled, joy and eventually deep peace as we see a glimpse of God’s plan for humanity, the promise of salvation through Jesus, and God’s eternal Kin(g)-dom. We don’t need to live in fear! We can live in the promise of what God can do and will do in our lives.
At first Mary felt fear and confusion upon hearing the angel’s message. For so long the dream that the Messiah would come and save her people had been planted in her heart and the hearts of her people. Now Mary was hearing the angel say that she would bring the child Jesus, the Messiah, into the world. While Mary is in a seemingly impossible situation, God uses impossible situations to upend the world, establish God’s Kin(g)-dom and make everything new. Realizing her dream will finally be fulfilled, Mary accepts her part in God’s plan and rejoices.
The Christmas story, is our story. It’s about divine love coming to earth to be with us, to love us and save us. It’s about people of faith like us, trying to make our way in a world fraught with danger and grief. We often feel frightened and confused trying to discern what God is calling us to do. But when we follow Jesus and do the work of the Kin(g)-dom, we can rejoice and have the deep peace of knowing that God loves us, has saved us, and will never let us go.
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Guided meditation: Take a minute to think about some moments where you have felt fear and confusion during 2020. Now imagine God coming to you in your moments of fear and confusion and saying to you, “Don’t be afraid! I am with you and I will never leave you. We will get through this together.” Now rest for a moment in God’s love and allow God’s dream for your life to be born anew in your heart.
Prayer: Holy and loving God, we are often afraid, so we put our faith in you, knowing that even in the midst of fear we have the promise of your love and salvation. We give you joyful thanks for sending your son Jesus and we pray, that you will renew in our hearts, the dream you have for us in your Kin(g)-dom. Amen.