Originally published in the King’s Stanley Magazine.
I wonder what you are afraid of? What do we fear?
When we were young we might have been afraid of the dark. A common fear as we grow up is the fear of failure. Then, as we grow older it could be the fear of losing our independence…
We all have fears and anxieties as we go through life.
It is wise to be afraid of some things and some situations, such as, for example, coming face to face with a rattlesnake, or being thrown into a den of lions.
Some religious people think that we should be afraid of God – just think of that threat, “I’ll put the fear of God into them!” – but we generally steer well clear of that which threatens, including God!
The Christmas story has, at its heart, the birth of a baby. Think of the first time you held a baby, how careful you were, how protective you felt. If you were still a child yourself, think of how proud you were because this “scrap of life” had been entrusted, however briefly, into your care. It is almost certain that on first holding a baby we are indeed afraid – not of the baby itself, but of dropping her or him.
Here is one way of looking afresh at the familiar story: God entrusts his son into the care of an ordinary couple, Mary and Joseph. “He was little, weak and helpless, tears and smiles like us he knew.” Simple yet not simplistic, because they were the couple who protected Jesus by taking him to Egypt, the parents who nurtured Jesus and anxiously searched for him when he was 12 years old.
One of the great messages of Christmas is, “Do not be afraid,” a message passed on by angels from God to every human being. That includes not being afraid of God who enters into human life as a baby.
This newsletter covers January as well as December, so “Happy New Year!” in advance. The coming year, 2019, will offer opportunities. Do not be scared to follow them up. There will be challenges to face, too, but do not be afraid. Remember to carry the Christmas message forward: “Fear not,” for God is among us and for us.
It was great to see such a good turnout for the Remembrance service, and it will have been great to have welcomed people to the Christmas services. You are all warmly invited to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service at 10.30 am on Sunday 20th January in St George’s.