I don’t know how many times I have heard, read or reflected on the account in Luke’s Gospel of the birth of Jesus.
Roman tax imposed.
Mary and Joseph forced to travel to Bethlehem.
The birth of a child.
Angels appearing to shepherds.
All in all, I think about the angels the most.
The Fear Not angels.
This is not the first time they show up in the story.
They appear (or at least one of them does) to Zechariah and Elizabeth and Mary and Joseph.
Always announcing themselves with the same greeting: Fear Not.
Which begs the question:
Who in their right mind would not be afraid?
Of the sudden appearance of an stranger.
Of the threat of Roman power.
Of wondering if there was going to be work tomorrow.
Or, food enough for today.
I wonder if those angelic words really meant (and mean) is this:
Yes! You are afraid, but don’t lose hope.
Yes! Even though this moment is filled with fear, hold onto courage.
Yes! There is reason to be afraid, but there is the possibility and promise of something new.
For to you is born this day…
In Gaza City.
In Washington, DC.
Wherever you live
A child who is the Christ.
One loved into being by that which we know and name as God
Who, in their being, embodies (incarnates?!) the possibility of helping us to see and to realize our shared humanity.
And to turn us in the direction of compassion and peace and justice and hope.
Which, after all, is the Dream of God meant for us and for all.
That’s the story.
Otherwise, it is just candles and carols and Silent Night.