By   December 19, 2017

CHRISTMAS-2: A THEMATIC HOMILY- “Do not be afraid.”

Luke 2: 8-128 Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. 9. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. 10. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. 12. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

Homily starter anecdote: 5-year-old Johnny was in the kitchen as his mother made supper. She asked him to go into the pantry and get her a can of tomato soup, but he didn’t want to go alone. “It’s dark in there and I’m scared.” She asked again, and he persisted. Finally, she said, “It’s OK Johnny, Jesus will be in there with you.” Johnny walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it. He peeked inside, saw it was dark, and started to leave when all at once an idea came, and he said, “Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup?”

Introduction: The most consoling and encouraging message of Christmas is the angelic message, “Do not be afraid.” This is a phrase that occurs 88 times in the Bible — and is mostly spoken by God to His people. This phrase is repeated so often that this short phrase has been called a distillation of the whole Bible.  The Lord said it to Abraham before cutting a covenant with him: “Don’t be afraid.”  Angel Gabriel said it to Daniel when he was frightened by a terrifying vision: “Don’t be afraid.”  The angel said it to Zechariah, future father of John the Baptist.  Angel Gabriel said it to Mary, who was troubled at the news she received.  An angel said it to shepherds startled by the Christmas glory that shone round them. Jesus repeatedly said it to his disciples, culminating in his resurrected appearance when he came to his grieving, fearful friends and spoke the words, “Don’t be afraid.” Mary Magdalene heard this same command when she was in the garden searching for Jesus in the empty tomb. So, on this Christmas day, perhaps this command is the very one God would give to us today: “Don’t be afraid.”

Since it is found all over the Bible as words spoken by God, we can trust them.  All of us have fears:  fears for the safety of our families, fears of our own health and life, fears about possible accidents, illnesses, violent home intrusion, fears about our jobs. We are afraid of snakes and poisonous creatures, deep water and fire hazards. We are afraid of the health of a loved one that seems to be slipping away. We are all afraid to lose what we do have. We are still afraid that what we do have, may not be enough in the end. On a global level, are afraid of terrorist attacks, nuclear warfare, religious persecution, global warming and so many other natural disasters. Christmas reminds us that if we fear God with reverential fear prompted by love, we don’t have to fear anything else in the world. We don’t have to fear people